Checker Transportation Group Launches Fit For Duty Campaign with Cannabis Learning Series
Checker Transportation Group has established itself as a safety leader in the Canadian transportation industry by implementing a Fit For Duty prevention and awareness campaign. They are preparing to roll out the Fit For Duty brand and messaging across their entire fleet of vehicles to educate employees, passengers, and the general public on what it means to be Fit For Duty. As a company with a fleet of over 900 vehicles and 1300 employees, they are setting the standard for impairment awareness leading up to the legalization of cannabis.
“We want to ensure that our number one priority is that our drivers, our customers, and our staff are safe at all times,” said Kurt Enders, President and CEO of Checker Transportation Group. Enders understands that impairment goes beyond drugs and alcohol use and is working actively with Cannabis Learning Series (CLS) to spread this message to employees and the general public. Checker has always strived to be a safety focused business and this initiative is an important part of their continued commitment to safety and impairment awareness.
“All Checker cabs will have Fit For Duty stickers on them. The goal in having these stickers and logo throughout the workplace is to have a constant reminder for drivers and passengers, that Checker is committed to safety,” said Jeff Bradshaw, President and CEO of Cannabis Learning Series. “We encourage all companies with safety sensitive positions to incorporate some kind of a Fit For Duty program, to minimize any workplace incidents and your employees safe.”
Checker Transportation Group is encouraging all their drivers to take the pledge to be Fit For Duty at www.rufitforduty.com, and they challenge others in the transportation industry to do the same. Health and safety are a top priority for all companies, and Checker has taken the first step in maintaining a safety-focused business.
The Time is now to Ensure Safety Post Cannabis Legalization
Why employers need to abandon the reactive approach and get proactive on the topic of cannabis legalization and it’s impact your workplaces:
There has been no shortage of concern among Canadian companies with the announcement of cannabis legalization. This has continued to build since October 17th was named the date legalization would come into effect. In one report published back in June by the Conference Board of Canada, they found that the majority of organizations (52%) are concerned or very concerned about how legalization will affect workplaces in Canada.
In fact, in that same report, workplace safety is consistently flagged as the top concern employers have with regard to legalization. Bryan Benjamin, the Vice-President of Organizational Performance with the Conference Board of Canada has said in articles that, “Gauging and managing impairment; adapting workplace policies; and ensuring employees are educated on what is allowed and what remains prohibited are all crucial components to a smooth transition to legalization.”
Yet for many companies, concern has yet to translate into action, and the worry about workplace safety has been met with a desire to wait and see what action contemporaries take to address the issue, then follow suit.
In an article published by the HR Reporter back in July 2017, Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in Toronto said, “While a year may sound like a lot to prepare for the legalization of marijuana, we are urging employers to act now.” That “now”, was over a year ago, and yet many employers still haven’t taken the clear action needed to address the issue.
The recommended actions to address cannabis legalization are very clear. There are 3 Key Steps that we recommend every company takes. Step 1 is updating your drug & alcohol policy. Step 2 is to train your supervisors and front line employees. Step 3 is to implement a Fit For Duty prevention and awareness campaign.
So what are you waiting for?
The concern is that legalization is happening October 17th whether you like it or not. You can gamble and take a wait-and-see approach or you can take action with these 3 Key Steps and sleep a little better knowing that your company is as prepared as you can be. The ultimate goal is to minimize workplace incidents and minimize your corporate risk. So don’t wait. Take Action.
Conference Board of Canada Report – https://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=9742&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Why Expanding your Definition of Safety Sensitive Positions is a Critical First Step in Maintaining a Safety Culture
Safety Sensitive Position or Task…It’s a simple term with complex implications. A universal understanding of what it means is the foundation on which you can build a strong safety culture. And, as an employer or health and safety professional, it will also give you greater capacity to inquire about drug use and require drug testing of employees and prospective employees in these safety sensitive positions or performing safety sensitive tasks…Both of which are quickly becoming more prominent concerns with cannabis legalization in 2018.
The simple fact is there is no master list of positions that fall into the safety sensitive category. Instead, you have to analyze and define them in the context of your own work environment.
And they are more than simply those you think of immediately…Like a truck driver, or equipment operator, for example. In fact, the definition is much broader, and covers not only jobs, but any task where a failure to perform it properly and safely may result in an incident.
Ask yourself the following:
An office-based salesperson may not seem to have safety sensitive tasks as part of their portfolio, but if they need to drive to visit prospective clients, then they do indeed, and they must be unimpaired and FIT FOR DUTY to perform that task.
An usher at a professional sporting event you would think does not have any safety sensitive duties until such point that there’s an emergency and the building needs to be evacuated. They instantly are put into a situation whereby impairment would not be acceptable.
The reality is, when you consider the tasks employees may need to perform daily or in rare occasions, it very clear that most positions should be considered safety sensitive. We have to stop thinking that safety sensitive positions are only the obvious ones like a truck driver or heavy equipment operator.
Thoroughly identifying and clearly defining these positions and tasks within your organization is a critical first step in proactively addressing the potential for incidents caused by impairment. By looking deeper into what positions within your organization should be considered safety sensitive you can then provide employees with the proper training and prevention awareness tools to minimize your risk and assure all employees are FIT FOR DUTY.
Ignoring the impact of upcoming cannabis legalization could be costly for Canadian companies and organizations as they scramble to put together workplace safety policies and procedures to deal with the new reality that comes into play in October.
Kym Fawcett, Senior HSE (Health and Safety Executive) Advisor with the Cannabis Learning Series, said federal and provincial occupational health and safety legislation and laws require employers to take all reasonable precautions to provide a safe work environment and to protect the health and safety of their employees.
“This includes identifying potential workplace hazards, including the potential impairment hazards, and developing mitigation or corrective actions to prevent such incidents from happening – called due diligence,” she said.
“To establish due diligence and reduce corporate business risk, employers need to have appropriate alcohol and drug policy and procedures in place. In addition, they need to educate and train their employees on these organizational requirements and processes.”
Fawcett said potential costs to an employer can be both direct and indirect. They include: increased safety incidents such as fatalities and accidents; absenteeism/sick leave/turnover; loss of production/productivity; legal costs arising from either safety incidents or from not accommodating an employee’s authorization of medical cannabis; increased costs related to insurance, workers compensation, temporary or replacement workers; damage to equipment or the workplace; disciplinary procedures; medical/rehabilitation programs; poor decision-making; and tardiness/sleeping on the job.
How costly could it get for employers?
“One incident could cost a company a lot of money starting from the incident in itself and the hardship to the employee to the investigation,” explained Fawcett. “When an incident happens, a number of people in an organization from health and safety, HR, legal, finance might get involved. Just the time.
“And then if there’s a lawsuit which often there is . . . if an employee is hurt and sues the company that’s where the costs can really get astronomical with both the lawsuit the legal costs or whatever the settlement is. Often those can go on for years.”
And at a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars.
Also, Fawcett said employers have to consider that human rights laws across Canada require them to accommodate their employees’ disabilities and also prohibit discrimination of employee disabilities. This includes the use of cannabis authorized from a medical practitioner.
Employees that are in safety-sensitive positions have a duty to perform their job
Through her past corporate experience, Fawcett has developed the corporate policies, procedures
She said cannabis legislation can be a potential risk for employers, especially for safety-sensitive positions. And that includes a huge list of employees from people driving on behalf of the company to operating heavy machinery to electrical workers.
“Any type of position that if they don’t do it correctly they could pose a risk to others in the workplace, the environment,” said Fawcett. “So that covers a lot of people.
“Not only do employers have to identify potential risks and put in plans to mitigate . . . they also have a duty to ensure that their employees are educated and they understand it . . . And they need to especially train their leaders to be able to talk to their employees and to be able to identify potential cases of impairment whether that’s cannabis or other drugs.”
Fawcett said that research in U.S. states that have legalized recreational cannabis found increasing use among people.
“What the trends show is that when they first legalize there’s a definite increase. Now over time the users that are over 26 that actually comes back down . . . What’s concerning is those younger adults. These are people that are coming into the workforce and will be taking over in the workforce. Those users that are 18 to 25, not only does the trend go up, it doesn’t come back down. They have seen an almost 50
As executives contemplate the new workplace environment that will be thrust upon them in October, it’s imperative they invest now in having the proper policies, procedures, training initiatives and prevention/awareness campaigns in place. It’s truly an investment that can provide a significant return.
Unfortunately, what too many companies are choosing to do is simply ignore the need to address the cannabis legislation changes or they think they’re covered by updating their drug and alcohol policies and sending a memo to employees.
In either case, doing too little can end up being pretty costly in the end.
(Written by Mario Toneguzzi – Journalist/ Storyteller/ Corporate Journalist/ Communications/Media Training at Mario Toneguzzi Communications)
A comprehensive campaign approach involving policy, education, and employee engagement is needed to address cannabis law changes. This is the “preventative maintenance” of the 2018 Canadian worksite.
That is a mouthful, but not only does it say a lot, it means a lot as well. So let’s unpack that statement.
The key is really understanding that, just like taking a vehicle in for regular inspections and maintenance, safety campaigns like those needed around cannabis and other drugs and alcohol are preventative maintenance. They guide our day to day and protect from safety threats. And just like taking care of a vehicle, that maintenance on your site will help ensure a long, safe, and incident free life for your “healthy worksite”.
It will be too late once an incident has happened to look back and wonder what more could have been done to clear through the confusion of cannabis law changes. Now is the time to act, before October 17th opens the door to increased incident chances, and confusion around what is, and is not, permissible within the new Canadian workplace.
The simple fact is that when we look at the states of Denver and Washington in the US, where recreational cannabis use has been legal for years, they show us that the use of the drug increases across all age groups after legalization.
With increased use, comes an increased opportunity for misunderstanding rules and regulations and ultimately, for increased workplace incidents related to cannabis impairment.
A comprehensive program to address this BEFORE it becomes a problem is the key to avoiding exposing yourself, your workforce, and your business, to unnecessary risk.
Policy is step 1. Updating existing policies to ensure they contain language that addresses cannabis directly, both ensures your stance and message on the drug’s use, possession, or impairment by, is clear. Certainly any policy or program that addresses impairment in general should be prioritized, but additionally, those covering the use of prescription medication, and those on substance use in general are crucial.
Education is step 2. It’s critical that leaders know, and can enforce your stance on impairment and approach to the new cannabis reality at work. It’s also important to train every level of employees so they (and you) can be confident in their understanding of rights and responsibilities when it comes to cannabis at work.
And finally, communication and engagement is step 3. It will keep safety, and the importance of being Fit For Duty and unimpaired, at the forefront in the workplace. At the end of the day, consistent messaging will engage your workforce and leadership to apply the safe work knowledge they have every day.
Now is truly the time to address cannabis law changes and apply preventative maintenance to keep your workplaces safe.
(Written by Eric Atkinson -Lead Instructional Designer – The Cannabis Learning Series)
You’ve been to the seminars. Now it’s time to act.
Cannabis legalization will be here before we know it and reports show that 71% of Canadian businesses are not prepared. Lack of preparation may create a lot of unnecessary and possibly costly headaches for companies of all size, across the country. It’s not going away and so this is something every company needs to address.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Ben Franklin
There are three key steps that you need to take in order to prepare your organization.
If you don’t have a Drug & Alcohol policy in place you need one. I’m surprised by how many companies don’t have one. If you do have one, you need to make sure it is up to date and current reflecting the changes to legalization of recreational cannabis. You can’t enforce the rules if you don’t have any in place. Not having an up to date Drug & Alcohol policy with associated procedures may open up the window for all kinds of potential costly legal issues.
Once your updated Drug & Alcohol policy is in place your next step is to train your executives, managers and supervisors. It’s important that they are educated on employee and employer rights and responsibilities as well as duty to accommodate and impairment awareness. We also believe that it is critical that your senior managers are educated on cannabis itself. There is a lot of misinformation and perceptions about cannabis due to the stigma attached to being a “pot head”. It’s important, especially for your executive and senior leaders to know about both medicinal vs recreational marijuana, THC vs CBD, effects on the body, new laws and impairment related to cannabis use.
Educating your entire employee base is also critical so that they know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. I’ve heard stories of people thinking that once cannabis is legalized they can smoke a joint on their lunch break or if they get an authorization from their doctor they can use cannabis whenever they want. Again misinformation is dangerous. In most workplaces you can’t go out on your lunch hour and drink three beer so why do you think you’d be able to “get high” on your lunch break? In order to minimize your liability you need to educate employees on the importance of being Fit For Duty or Fit To Work depending on which term your organization uses.
Now that you’ve updated your policies and procedures and initiated a training program the next step is to activate a Prevention & Awareness campaign so that you can remind your employees the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. It also allows you to emphasize the fact that being Fit For Duty / Fit To Work is expected every single day.
The number one goal of promoting a safe and healthy workplace is so that you can minimize the risk of workplace incidents but what it also does is that is can help limit your liability. If you’re actively training and promoting workplace safety it may reduce your legal exposure if an incident does take place.
There is an additional step to consider which will arise and it requires companies to address their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) as you will have employees asking about coverage for medicinal cannabis. This in my opinion is something companies can deal with after the first three steps are complete.
So the time to act is now. You’ve heard about it, maybe you have been to a seminar, read the articles and hopefully you are already addressing at least step one. Regardless of your situation I highly recommend that you set some time aside now to get a plan in place so that you are confident that your company is prepared to deal with cannabis legalization.
With the legalization of cannabis on October 17th of this year, organizations across Canada need to take 3 key steps to assure they are actively promoting a safe workplace and minimizing liability. These steps include, updating your drug and alcohol policy, training employees, and actively promoting prevention and awareness.
Far too often we hear executives say, “We’re covered, we have a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY”, then when we follow up with, “What exactly does that mean?” they stumble with the answer. They stumble because they’re dealing with a complex and frustrating new reality. This is just one other thing executives need to deal with, and not everyone has the time or resources to address it properly.
Addition questions to the “Zero Tolerance” statement include:
The point we’re trying to make is that simply updating your drug and alcohol policy, saying your organization has a Zero Tolerance policy and sending your employees a “memo” is not enough, and leaves the door open for all kinds of potential headaches.
Taking it one step further and implementing a training program and executing an internal prevention and awareness campaign does cost a bit more money and take a bit more time but the investment upfront can save you massive amounts of time and money spent on workplace incidents and possibly legal issues down the road.
So, to be clear, yes, we sell a solution that helps organizations address this new reality of cannabis legalization and yes, we have a biased opinion, but the point is whether it is our solution, or an alternative, we highly recommend that you save yourself time, money, and headaches by not ignoring the impact this will have on your workplace.
October 17th, 2018 will be here sooner than you think. The time to act is now!