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Colorado cannabis workers lack safety training, survey shows

Photo: Bouganville/iStockphoto

Fort Collins, CO — Nearly half of workers in Colorado’s legalized cannabis industry have received minimal or no workplace safety training, according to a recent study from the Colorado State University Department of Psychology.

Researchers surveyed 214 workers who had daily contact with cannabis plants or products. Findings showed that 46 percent of respondents had been given little to no on-the-job training since beginning employment, creating “an imminent need to establish formal health and safety training to implement best practices.”

Led by Kevin Walters, a Colorado State graduate student in psychology, the study expands on 2017 research co-authored by Walters that was directed at cannabis industry leaders. The new report examines the demographics, physical environment and psychosocial aspects of working in the cannabis industry. The researchers found that workers:

  • Valued safety by reporting injuries and exposures
  • Showed low concern over workplace hazards
  • Sensed job security
  • Consumed cannabis regularly

“We don’t want our work to be the end,” Walters said in a March 16 press release. “We’re just starting to build a conversation.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently published a guide covering occupational safety and health in the marijuana industry. In 2017, the organization, in conjunction with the Center for Health, Work and Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health, twice hosted safety training sessions focused on several issues explored in the initial report.

Colorado’s cannabis industry has boomed since the drug was legalized for recreational purposes in 2012.

The study was published online March 14 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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