Safety Considerations for Cannabis Growers & Dispensaries
Several states in the US have implemented some form of legalization of recreational or medical cannabis. This spike in production means cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries need to know the proper precautions to take to avoid any potential injury. While there is no federal guidance on safety and PPE for cannabis growers or dispensaries, there is guidance on how to handle the hazards present in cannabis production and processing.
Chemical Hazards for Cannabis Growers & Dispensaries
Various chemical compounds are used in the production of cannabis. Respiratory irritation, skin rashes, or chemical burns can occur when workers are exposed to these chemcials. Workers in the cannabis production industry can expect to encounter chemical hazard such as:
Fungicides & Pesticides
Gasoline or other fuels
Biological Hazards for Cannabis Growers & Dispensaries
The main biological hazard encountered in cannabis production is mold. During production, cannabis must be kept at certain levels of humidity in order to thrive. Humidity levels can increase the growth of molds which can cause respiratory issues or other allergic reactions.
Additionally, concentrated cannabis resin can produce allergic reactions such as swollen eyes, itchy skin, or other reactions.
Physical Hazards for Cannabis Growers & Dispensaries
Like other industries that involve extracting and processing plant matter. Other than the heavy equipment and high pressures used in this industry, ofterntimes there are flammable substances in addition to potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals. Physical hazards can include:
Farming or processing equipment that can injure workers
Malfuction or misuse of pressurized processing equipment
Being exposed to flammable chemicals that may not wash off immediately
Cleaning chemicals can cause skin and respiratory irritation
Workers can be exposed to harsh outdoor conditions
Personal Protective Equipment for Cannabis Production & Processing
Disposable Gloves for Cannabis Production
Since most cannabis is slated for human consumption, choosing the right disposable glove for cannabis production is important. The disposable gloves protect employee's hands from cleaning chemicals, allergic reactions, and THC while also protecting the cannabis from potential contamination. Choose a disposable glove with a maximum AQL of 2.5 (medical grade) to protect your workers and product.
Engineering controls should be implemented to ensure proper ventilation, thus reducing the exposure to CO, CO2, and NOx. During normal operations, respiratory protection like an N95 Disposable Respirator can help minimize exposures to mold, dusts, pesticides, cleaning agents or other chemicals being used onsite. N95 Disposable Respirators are rated to filter out 95% of airbone particulates.
Workers in the cannabis production industry must protect their face and eyes from THC, pesticides, and other chemicals outlined above. Flying debris may create projectile hazards from the harvesting and processing of cannabis. Employers should consider the hazards related specifically to their work site and determine if safety eyewear, a full face shield, or some combination is necessary.
Protective clothing not only protects the cannabis production workers, but also to protect the plants themselves. Since most cannabis produced is slated for human consumption, the utmost care must be taken to avoid contamination. Protective clothing ensures that human workers do not contaminate the plants with their bodily fluids, skin flaking, hair shedding, fingernail dirt, and other bodily debris.