Maritime groups team up for cannabis workplace safety course

The Charlottetown-based Professional Security Knowledge Network now offers an online course about cannabis and workplace safety.

'It's quite different than alcohol'

THC stays in the body much longer than alcohol, says Stephen Sayle. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Charlottetown-based Professional Security Knowledge Network now offers an online course about cannabis and workplace safety.

The network, which offers online training courses for the security and investigation sector, adopted the program from the Halifax-based Sayle Group.

Sayle Group specializes in workplace safety and runs the website Safety Culture Works.

'A gap in general workforce education'

CEO Stephen Sayle says the cannabis program was developed due to growing interest from a number of industries.

"We attended numerous conferences and seminars and we saw there was a gap in general workforce education around this topic," Sayle said.

'We hear a lot of companies say they can treat it the same as alcohol. It's quite different than alcohol,' says Stephen Sayle. (CBC)

"There were a lot of lawyers speaking in legalese and a lot of toxicologists speaking in very scientific terms."

The online course is available to PSKN's 16,000 member groups across Canada and costs $50.

'A lot of misinformation'

There are five modules, each consisting of a short video lasting seven to 10 minutes, says PSKN's website.

They include cannabis user and workplace safety considerations, identifying and addressing safety hazards, workplace responsibilities, best practices and reasonable suspicion.

The cannabis course deals with user and workplace safety considerations, best practices and reasonable suspicion. (CBC)

Cannabis differs from alcohol in terms of workplace treatment, Sayle said.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there. We hear a lot of companies say they can treat it the same as alcohol. It's quite different from alcohol."

'No reliable, real-time testing'

Alcohol is water-soluble and flushes through the system quickly, Sayle said. THC, the active chemical in cannabis, stays in the body much longer, potentially for weeks.

"One of the concerns employers have is there's still no reliable, real-time testing for impairment around cannabis," Sayle said. 

"So if someone were to be using cannabis legally, say before their shift or the night before, how long could that impairment last into their workplace and maybe present a safety risk?"

'Competing priorities'

When cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17, Sayle said employers will have to balance legalization with their duty to keep their employees safe.

"So we have these competing priorities of privacy and legal consumption, and then workplace safety."

Opinions about cannabis have been kept out of the course entirely, Sayle said.

"We're approaching this topic purely from a safety perspective."

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With files from Louise Martin

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