CoatingsPro Magazine

JAN 2019

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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Page 32 of 108

32 JANUARY 2019 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Safety Watch L et's clear the smoke on this issue — the expanding societal acceptance and legalization of marijuana usage (medical or recreational) poses a substantial workplace safety issue on construction jobsites. Contractors should take immediate action to address this expanding risk. Marijuana's Negative Effects Regardless of the strength of the arguments for or against medical marijuana usage for what are understandably difficult personal circumstances, none are more compel- ling than providing a safe construction worksite for employees and the public. Construction workers must have full use of their skills and faculties while performing all aspects of their jobs. Medical marijuana may have positive medical benefits, but there are also well-documented negative effects. Some negative effects to the central nervous system include changes in sensory perception, altered thought formation and expression, short-term memory problems, and impaired thinking and learning. Negative physical effects include impaired motor performance, loss of balance and coordination, decreased attentiveness and alertness, prolonged response time to stimuli and danger, decreased ability to judge distance and space, and impaired ability to perform complex tasks. ese negative effects could be disastrous on a construction jobsite. e problem with determining whether an employee is potentially subject to these negative effects on a jobsite is that there is currently no reliable metric for determining when a particular level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana usage impairs the user and for how long that user remains impaired. THC and other psychoactive components stay in the body much longer than alcohol. Studies show the duration of impairment from marijuana use may be longer than previously known and could be up to 24 to 48 hours. Chronic use of marijuana may have long-term brain effects that could impair construction workers even if they are not actively using on the jobsite. A positive drug test does not necessarily indicate a person is currently intoxicated or impaired. Expanding Use, Acceptance, and Legalization Marijuana usage is broad-based, with no direct connection to age. In a recent survey, 31.6 percent of people 18–25 used marijuana in 2013. But the largest growth among marijuana users is in the 55–64 age group, with an increase of 455 percent from 2002 to 2014. Employers should not just be paying attention to this risk with their millen- nials; older workers — with growing medical issues related to aging — are increasingly using medical marijuana. Another problem arises from lagging technology. Use of marijuana One of the key questions presented by medical marijuana laws is whether an employer must accommodate an employee's medical usage. By Phillip B. Russell, Florida Bar Board Certified Expert in Labor and Employment Law at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Marijuana Usage Is a Workplace Safety Issue

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