The commercial cannabis industry continues to grow in Colorado and nationwide, demanding the need for a new workforce to be trained in occupational safety and health (OSH). In 2016, educators at the Center for Health, Work & Environment designed and delivered a full-day, in-person workshop for cannabis cultivation workers—one of the first learning experiences in the country of this kind. The course was an overview of OSH hazards and topics critical to the industry including chemical exposures, repetitive motion disorders, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, and personal protective equipment. A total of 208 people attended the two full-day trainings.
To ensure we continue to provide high-quality educational offerings, our center evaluates all of its continuing education activities. Our recent paper, published in the Annals of Work Exposure and Health
, describes how we evaluated this specific training. We wanted to know what attendees thought about the training, whether their knowledge about OSH in the cannabis industry improved, and how their OSH concerns changed after the training.
Our evaluation discovered that:
91% of attendees rated the training as “very good” or “excellent.”
76% of attendees reported increased knowledge.
Attendees planned to implement changes in the workplace such as conducting more safety trainings, changing safety programs and policies, improving hazards, increasing OSH communications, and performing ergonomic and hazard assessments.
Our evaluation demonstrates that OSH concerns of attendees shifted before and after the training, reflecting a better understanding of the musculoskeletal and respiratory hazards that exist in cannabis cultivation work. The training increased workers’ awareness of OSH issues that are more concerning and hazardous in their work than issues they previously thought were the most pressing.
A significant takeaway from this training and its evaluation is that cannabis cultivation workers are highly interested in OSH training specific to their industry. Based on the rapidly expanding legalized cannabis landscape, the industry will continue to need updated information to keep its workforce safe and healthy on the job. Our center offers an online version of this training
through its continuing education platform and is in the process of developing a more extensive training in the next year.
If you are interested in occupational safety and health training for your cannabis cultivation employees, please reach out
Written by Carol Brown, deputy director at the Center for Health, Work & Environment based at the Colorado School of Public Health.