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Cannabis on the Job Site

"Cannabis changes nothing and cannabis changes everything" says Andrew Pariser,  Vice President of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario.


With October 17, 2018 fast approaching there is still a lot of uncertainty in the construction industry now that the use of recreational marijuana is becoming legal.


In construction, safety is everyone’s number one concern. Safe workers are happier, healthier, more productive, and provide a higher quality of work. Impaired workers, regardless of the

cause, are a hazard to themselves, other workers, and the public.


When recreational cannabis becomes legal and the obligations are placed on employers, arguments on whether or not marijuana consumption would be dangerous for those on a construction site will be pretty much moot, at least for now. No construction manager will toe the line when it could expose their business to potential liability.


 A survey by the Human Resource Professionals Association found that 71 per cent of employers are not prepared for the legalization of cannabis. A difficult balance must be struck between respecting an individual’s human rights and enforcing onsite mechanisms to ensure workers go home safely every night.


There is still a lot of uncertainty over enforcement on job sites but impairment should be impairment regardless of the cause. All employers in construction should have  up-to-date policies to guide and inform employees on what is and isn’t acceptable.


“There are certain circumstances where employees who are using marijuana may need to be accommodated in the workplace under human rights legislation, depending on the circumstances of the use,” Sarah Huot, an associate with Bennett Jones LLP,  says. “Employers will need to make sure they’re aware of their obligations. If an employee shows up to work and is impaired by marijuana, that might not constitute sufficient grounds to terminate or otherwise discipline the employee.” She goes on to explain that employers will need to investigate whether the employee is using marijuana for treatment of a medical condition, or if there could be a substance abuse or dependency issue which constitutes a disability under human rights legislation.


"An employer is required to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. An employer should assess the circumstances of the workplace, identify the hazards that may be present and take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that workers are protected. This duty may include ensuring workers are not impaired while performing their work, and ensuring workers are not introducing hazards to the workplace as a result of impairment arising from substance use." (


According to the Government of Ontario's website -, "Consuming recreational cannabis in the workplace is illegal and will continue to be after legalization on October 17, 2018"


Stay safe! Work smart!!


Lisa Chambers

Canada Heavy Equipment College


Contact Canada Heavy Equipment College if you or your business needs help with up-to-date policies regarding impairment in the workplace.

519-650-6040 or

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