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Regardless of the fear associated with legal weed, workplaces in the marijuana industry are among the safer industries for workers, according to data released Monday.
In the seven years since Colorado legalized marijuana, the state’s marijuana industry as a whole is “relatively safe” compared with other cultivation, retail and manufacturing jobs in the state, said Jim McMillen, director of safety services at Denver-based Pinnacol Assurance Co., which released the claims data.
According to Pinnacol, about 350 injuries were recorded in 2018 in the Colorado marijuana industry, with the most common injuries resulting from strains, cuts, falls or slips, being struck by something, or striking something. Roughly 70% of the injuries were sustained by men aged 20 to 29 years old, with 38% of the injuries occurring in the worker’s first six months of employment. The majority of the claims occurred in November or December; April saw the fewest claims, despite the “4/20” events and promotions that occur on April 20. More than three-quarters of the claims occurred during normal business hours, with the majority of incidents taking place between 10 a.m. and noon.
The industry did, however, report a higher amount of “foreign body to eyes” injuries, and those injuries cost an average of $2,000, according to Pinnacol data.
“Eye injuries are quite common in the cannabis industry and are very easily preventable with a small investment in eye protection (safety glasses) and a plan to enforce their use,” said Mr. McMillen.
He speculated that the overall lower rates of injuries in the marijuana industry may be in part due to the heavy regulation of the industry, and said more marijuana companies are adding safety managers and focusing on ergonomics, materials handling and fall protection risk mitigation.
The New Jersey state Assembly and Senate advanced bills that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, according to information on the state website.