OHS Canada Magazine

U.S. safety council urges zero tolerance for cannabis usage by safety-sensitive workers

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October 21, 2019
By OHS Canada

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety cannabis Drugs National Safety Council safety-sensitive

Updated policy released by national body

The U.S. National Safety Council (NSC) in Itasca, Ill., is calling on employers to restrict cannabis usage for workers in safety-sensitive positions, regardless of whether cannabis consumption is yet permissible in their state.

Safety concerns remain paramount as decriminalization of cannabis occurs in some states across America, according to an Oct. 21 press release announcing an updated policy position.

The NSC defines safety-sensitive positions as “those that impact the safety of the employee and the safety of others as a result of performing that job.”

Research clearly shows that cannabis impacts a person’s psychomotor skills and cognitive ability, said NSC president and CEO Lorraine Martin.

“In order to protect our employees and those around them, we need to acknowledge the impairing effects of cannabis,” she said. “We urge employers to implement policies stating no amount of cannabis consumption is acceptable for those who work in safety-sensitive positions.”


Cannabis users can experience impaired body movement, altered senses, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving and impaired memory, according to the NSC. These effects can lead to deadly consequences for those working in safety-sensitive positions and those around them.

NSC supports moving employees to non-safety sensitive operational positions when using cannabis for medical purposes.

Cannabis continues to be the most frequently used illicit drug in the United States, and is the drug most often detected in workplace drug tests, according to the NSC.

Though cannabis remains federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug, NSC is also calling for an increase in cannabis-related research to discover a way to detect cannabis impairment and gain a better understanding of the effects the drug has on the mind and body.


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