As anyone in New City or Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties can probably figure out by reading the news, society in the last 20 or so years has taken a far less critical look at the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana. Many states, including New York, allow it for medicinal purposes, and a growing number of states permit its broad use among adults. This change has led to an explosion of legal marijuana dispensaries and growers.
However, despite society’s liberalized attitude toward the drug, a recent report from the National Safety Council stated that no worker in a job the report described as safety sensitive should have any level of marijuana in his or her system. As the name implies, the National Safety Council is a non-profit dedicated to promoting workplace safety across the economy.
This position may be perceived as somewhat draconian, particularly since a person with marijuana in his or her system may have actually used the drug weeks prior and thus be suffering absolutely no impairment. On the other hand, statistics suggest that those workers who do test positive for marijuana at any point had more industrial accidents, 55% more, than did non-users. Likewise, workers who tested positive for the drug had 85% more injuries, almost double the numbers of those workers who do not use the drug.
For its part, the National Safety Council recommends that those who are using marijuana legally, such as for medical reasons, be transferred to positions that are lower risk.
Workers who are injured by a fellow employee or a third party who did test positive for marijuana may have access to workers’ compensation benefits. Other remedies for construction workers’ accidents involving potential marijuana use may also be available. In these matters, it is important to understand your rights and options.