CSA to create standards for cannabis impairment

Jun 26, 2019

The CSA Group has revealed that it is currently working on a new standard for recognizing cannabis impairment in the workplace which is to be released in the spring of 2020. The announcement was made at the Partners in Prevention Health and Safety Conference and Trade Show held in Mississauga in April. The new standard is aimed to address the limitations in regulatory guidance and legislative directives for employers and safety professionals to manage the effects of the impairment in the workplace, and specifically in safety sensitive positions.

“Despite the fact that legalization has come and gone, there hasn’t been a lot of regulatory response to this… There are groups coming together to help guide what you can do to be prudent about these changes.”

Dan Demers, senior manager of strategic business development, CannAmm North Bay

According to Demers, cannabis needs to be addressed in a separate policy than alcohol due to the different effects on the brain. Demers also said that cannabis-induced impairment can last longer than that of alcohol, and can include slower reaction times that can be problematic for employees in safety-sensitive positions due to high risk of injury to themselves and others. “If you smoke cannabis, it’ll affect you very quickly, a few seconds, peak in 10 minutes, last for four to six hours. If you eat the same amount of cannabis, the onset could be upwards of 60 to 90 minutes and then you’re going to feel high for about 10 to 12 hours,” Demers said. “This is the period of time intoxication due to cannabis is happening and you could actually sense it. But it’s not the total time of impairment.” In terms of cognitive skills, Demers said that the three R’s negatively impacted by cannabis use include reasoning, reaction and recall.

The project manager at the CSA Group, Andrea Holbeche, said the new standard is being developed based on the findings of a new research report compiled by the group, Workplace Policies on Substance Use: Implications for Canada, and data collected from a workshop organized by the group in October 2018. The findings of the report suggest that many workplaces across Canada lack a standalone cannabis or drug-impairment policy because drug impairment is categorize together with broader and general substance use policies. Hoelbeche also said that key components in workplace drug policies should include objectives and scope, prevention mechanisms, observation and investigation parameters, support, return to work, non-compliance, review and evaluation, as well as legal requirements.

According to Holbeche, upon the release of the initial version of the standard in the fall/winter of 2019, stakeholders will be able to provide feedback. The new CSA standard is expected to provide employers with the tools to identify signs and symptoms of risk of impairment and enact their policy in a consistent manner, while respecting the privacy of workers and not violating human rights laws with workplace drug policies.

DATAC has a course which provides just this help for employers, the Supervisor Awareness Training course. Which gives supervisors the knowledge to recognize impairment (one hour of drug information and one hour of alcohol information is included) and learn the appropriate documentation procedures to implement testing if required, while staying within the all applicable laws and remaining legally defensible.

DATAC can also help you with creation and implementation of an appropriate drug and alcohol policy which includes appropriate updates to deal with cannabis in the workplace.