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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Danger of Weed in the Workplace

Can I file a workers' comp claim if I get stoned at work and have an accident?

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the use of marijuana is having an impact in the workplace. As the number of pot smokers rises, more employees and job applicants are testing positive in drug-screening tests. If you fail a test as part of a pre-employment requirement, you will not be hired. If you are required to take a drug test at work and the results are positive, you could be disciplined or even fired. Ultimately, weed in the workplace is a safety issue.

The Dangers of Marijuana at Work

The primary reason for prohibiting use of marijuana in the workplace is because smoking grass on the job has been linked to job accidents and injuries stemming from the short-term effects of being high such as impaired body movement, difficulty thinking, memory problems and altered senses. In short, there is a link between illicit drug use and workplace accidents. While smoking pot mat be reasonably safe in a controlled environment, the fact that workplace safety may be jeopardized my individuals being stoned at work raises concerns.

This is especially an issue in work situations that involve the use of machinery or driving vehicles.
The impact of marijuana use on transportation safety is a clear and present danger. Some studies demonstrate the drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time, and affects an individual's perception of time and speed. Moreover, pot smoking impacts driving performance and increases the risk of collisions, some of which can be deadly. Marijuana use may also trigger problems with attendance and worker productivity, which is becoming a greater issue as weed becomes more socially acceptable stemming from the liberalization of marijuana laws. That being said, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse.

Workplace Substance Abuse Policies

In light of the increased use of marijuana, it is crucial for employers to establish a strong workplace substance abuse policy. While smoking weed has been legalized in some states, employers may still ban the drug at work. Moreover, federal laws require certain industries and contractors to prohibit illegal drug use. Employers not covered by these federal laws still need to provide employees with a safe workplace. Of course, employees have a responsibility as well.

While workers who have an accident or are injured at work are entitled to compensation, if the injury was the result of drug or alcohol use, your claim will be denied, and you face the possibility of being disciplined or losing your job. If you were injured at work in Pennsylvania through no fault of your own, however, you should consult with an attorney who has expertise in workers' compensation law.


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