6 Ways to Protect Your Employees from Pesticide Exposure

There are a lot of shared problems operating cannabis businesses, but inventory issues are arguably the most common. In the lean manufacturing system, where waste is defined as “something that adds no value”, inventory is identified as one of seven wastes. Lean Manufacturing Tools describes inventory waste in this way:

“Inventory costs you money, every piece of product tied up in raw material, work in progress or finished goods has a cost and until it is actually sold that cost is yours. In addition to the pure cost of your inventory it adds many other costs; inventory feeds many other wastes.

Inventory has to be stored, it needs space, it needs packaging and it has to be transported around. It has the chance of being damaged during transport and becoming obsolete. The waste of Inventory hides many of the other wastes in your systems.” (http://leanmanufacturingtools.org/77/the-seven-wastes-7-mudas/)

From state-to-state inventory violations tend to be the most common fines, in the cannabis industry. These violations are typically for not properly reporting inventory and not reconciling actual inventory to the virtual seed-to-sale tracking system’s inventory.

While manufacturing waste and fines and violations are concerns for any business the biggest perils associated with inventory are criminal in nature. Inventory that is not well tracked is vulnerable for theft, embezzlement, and diversion of product into the black market.

The issues compound very quickly, if inventory discrepancies happen day after day, it becomes nearly impossible to identify what exactly went wrong. If a business does not catch an inventory discrepancy with in 48 hours the likelihood of identifying the issues drops dramatically.

To control waste, fines, and criminal activity every cannabis business must button up their inventory controls. Every process involved in producing, moving, and selling product should be clearly defined with responsibility assigned to specific personnel. While many states do not require daily inventory reconciliation it is best practice to do so. This requires businesses to count every plant and product daily and verify the virtual tracking numbers match. Many businesses see daily inventory reconciliation as too time consuming and burdensome, but the consequences are too high to not know exactly what your inventory is every day.

Alex Hearding
Chief IMPACT Officer

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Working in a cannabis cultivation has the risk of pesticide exposure which can lead to serious harm to the employee. The major types of pesticide toxicity are: acute toxicity (occurring from a single incident or exposure) and chronic toxicity (occurring from repeated incidents of exposure for many months or year). Toxic effects by pesticide exposure can range from mild symptoms, like minor skin irritation or other allergic symptoms, to more severe symptoms, like strong headache, dizziness, or nausea. Some pesticides can cause severe symptoms, like convulsions, coma, and possibly even death. The good news for cannabis workers is that most of the most dangerous pesticides to human health are typically not allowed in cannabis facilities, but the dangers are still there. No one deserves to be injured at work and we do not want to bring the pesticide residuals home to our families. So how do we protect ourselves and employees from pesticide exposures? Here are 6 ways to keep everyone safe:

  1. Work Shoes – You must assume every surface in an area that has pesticide applied has pesticide residue and any floor you walk on will leave residue on the sole of your shoes. Shoes that you bring from home should be removed when you get to the facility and replaced with your work shoe. Shoes that are slip-resistant and washable like chef clogs are ideal for cultivations.
  2. Wash Hands – Again we must assume pesticide is everywhere, so every surface or plant you touch will leave residue on your hands or gloves. You must wash your hand before you touch your face, drink, and or smoke. After you touch something in a cultivation area you immediately know I must wash my hands before I touch anything else. When in doubt wash your hands. And if you are using gloves or additional ppe make sure you are removing them correctly. (You can find the CDC guidelines for putting on and removing ppe here)
  3. Read Labels – It is illegal to use any chemical outside the way the label directions say to use it [except in used less quantiles and concentrations, and less frequently] A pesticide label will tell how to mix it, use it with a specific devise, the dangers of the chemical, and apply the chemical correctly. It also describes the specific personal protective equipment (PPE), which leads to number 4
  4. Proper PPE – The label will tell you what specific type and material PPE to use for the best projection from the chemical. This includes type of glove, eye and skin protection, and if respirator is needed. Even if the label doesn’t require it you can voluntarily protect yourself from the chemicals by wearing any PPE that you like. It should be noted if you use respirators (including N-95s) either mandatorily because the label says to or voluntarily your company must have a written respiratory protection program, as defined by OSHA.
  5. Apply Pesticides Off-hours- Many people have sensitivity to pesticides and the obviously pesticide residues are greater after application. It is a good idea to apply pesticides during off-hours as to allow the chemical residue to reduce over time and give your sensitive employees a break for the higher exposure.
  6. Adhere to the Worker Protection Standard – And last but not least your business must adhere to the Worker protection Standard (WPS). This is a federal standard that applies to all agricultural workers and pesticide handlers, which is essentially anyone who works in a cultivation facility. While it is an federal EPA standard it is typically enforce by the state agricultural department in legal cannabis states. The WPS includes pesticide safety training and a central location where certain information must be displayed, and other safety standards. For complete information about the WPS rule requirements, refer to the final WPS rule

Alex Hearding
Chief Risk Management Officer

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Complete this form to talk to one of our risk managers today to ensure financial success in your cannabis business.

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