April 28, 2015
Two occupational safety and health organizations have issued comprehensive guidelines for companies to navigate the changing environment regarding marijuana in this country and still keep their employees safe.
With half of states legalizing medical marijuana and a handful OKing recreational use, companies have been left asking, How does this impact our drug policy and workplace safety?
The American Association of Occupational health Nurses and the American College of Occupational Environmental Medicine formed a panel to develop guidelines for companies regarding workplace safety and marijuana impairment.
The panel has published a paper in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine summarizing its recommendations.
The paper points out that the duty employers have to keep workers safe on the job under OSHA’s General Duty Clause may make it necessary to exclude people under the influence of marijuana from certain tasks or from the workplace altogether.
Also, employers who fire or refuse to hire employees because of marijuana use aren’t in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
However, the ADA does put restrictions on drug testing. Drug tests must be job-related and necessary for business.
When federal regs apply
Two federal regulations place requirements on employers regarding employees and marijuana.
Under U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, marijuana use remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing, including:
- bus and truck drivers
- locomotive engineers
- subway operators
- aircraft maintenance personnel
- transit fire-armed security personnel, and
- ship captains.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires companies that receive a federal contract of more than $100,000 or a federal grant of any size to maintain a drug-free workplace. The DFWA doesn’t require drug testing, but it does require employers to:
- publish and distribute a policy
- specify actions that will be taken against employees who violate the policy, and
- provide education in the workplace about the dangers of drug use.
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