The Colorado Department of Health and Environment released a comprehensive guide for worker safety for the marijuana industry Tuesday.
The guide took about two years to complete and is likely the first of its kind compiled by a state agency, said Roberta Smith, Occupational Health Program Manager at CDHE.
Part of the purpose of the guide, Smith said, is to remind the industry that though the federal government has not sanctioned the legalization medical and recreational marijuana, businesses in the industry are still required to follow rules from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Cultivation centers, retail stores and testing facilities with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of and report serious work-related injuries and fatalities, the Guide to Worker Safety and Health in the Marijuana Industry states.
The 79-page guide also has information on Colorado’s labor laws, workers’ compensation laws, hazardous waste laws, the Colorado Pesticide Applicator’s Act, local fire codes and other regulations specific to the retail and medical marijuana industry.
“Slips, trips and falls are hazards common to every industry, but the marijuana industry has special considerations. For example, fires and explosions can occur during production of marijuana extracts and lead to fatal injuries,” Smith said in a statement announcing the guide.
Smith told Denverite the guide is not in response to workplace injuries or deaths in the industry. The state does not collect injury or illness information on businesses or industries so it’s difficult to say how the industry is performing on health and safety rules.
The data can be difficult to get at because marijuana does not yet have set codes under The North American Industry Classification System and can be filed under the branches of retail, agriculture or other industries.
At least three cannabis-related companies have been fined for occupation and safety violations since 2012, according to OSHA.