Impairment and cannabis in the workplace

For more information on workplace impairment, please see the Questions and answers page.

Workplace impairment

Someone who is impaired may have difficulty completing their work tasks safely and may put themselves, their coworkers and the public in danger.

There are many potential causes of impairment. In addition to factors such as fatigue and certain medical conditions, these include the use of legal and illegal substances such as:

  • alcohol
  • cannabis, including foods that contain cannabis known as "edibles"
  • street drugs
  • certain medications

A shared responsibility

Everyone has a role to play in workplace health and safety. Employers and employees alike should be prepared to prevent the risk of cannabis impairment at work and should note the following employer and employee responsibilities in federally regulated workplaces. For businesses or industries regulated by the province or territory, please refer to provincial and territorial governments.

Employers’ responsibilities

Employers should:

  • ensure the health and safety of all employees at work
  • address physical and/or psychological hazards in their workplace, including when impaired.
  • work with employee representatives to develop, implement and evaluate a hazard prevention program to monitor and prevent hazards
  • include policies on substance use and impairment in hazard prevention programs when the use of cannabis and other causes of impairment represents a hazard.

Employees’ duties

Employees must:

  • work safely
  • understand the impact that using substances (medical/therapeutic or non-medical) can have on their safety and that of others
  • report to their employer anything or circumstance that is likely to be hazardous to the employees or any other person in the workplace
  • inform their employer if a medical condition or treatment may cause impairment and impact their ability to perform their job safely
  • follow all instructions provided by the employer concerning the health and safety of employees

Duty to accommodate

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, employers have the obligation to accommodate to the point of undue hardship an employee who has identified as having a disease, injury or disability, including substance dependence and medical authorizations to use cannabis for medical purposes.

For more information on how to accommodate substance dependence, please read the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s guide Impaired at Work – A guide to accommodating substance dependence.

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