Legalized marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is finding its roots nationwide. In those states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, employers must understand the relevant legal developments and how they affect the workplace. Currently, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana use, and 10 states have approved both its medical and recreational use. So, what does this mean for employers?
All marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is deemed to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. As such, this allows you to continue to consistently enforce your zero-tolerance drug policies, including as it applies to medical marijuana. Accordingly, you should be able to continue to send any employee to random or reasonable suspicion drug testing consistent with your policies and practices, and then enforce your disciplinary policies as it would not matter what kind of illegal drug – including medical marijuana – shows up in the individual’s system.
If you employ individuals in safety-sensitive positions or other jobs that require drug-testing under federal or state guidelines, you will almost certainly want to follow this recommendation. In some cases, you may be required to do so under federal law, such as Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. In other cases, you will want to do so in order to avoid the risk of having one of your employees cause an accident involving members of the public, coworkers, or simply themselves, which could lead to devastating consequences and employer liability. Any employee who has to drive as part of the job, even if not subject to DOT regulations, should be legally prohibited from being under the influence of marijuana.
Since the passing of the most recent amendment in Florida, employers have worried about what it could mean for drug use in the workplace. Until courts rule otherwise, companies must not tolerate testing positive for marijuana under the drug-free workplace.
Given what we know, there are still many lingering questions, such as:
- Should I still drug test?
- Can I refuse to hire an employee who uses medical marijuana?
- Do I have to accommodate an employee who uses medical marijuana?
- What effects of medical marijuana can be anticipated on a job site?
- How do I know if the medical marijuana use is valid?
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently filed with the state Office of Insurance Regulation a proposal that would lead to an average 5.4% rate decrease for employers, effective January 1, 2020.
The exact amount of the rate decrease will be determined after the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) holds a public hearing in October to discuss NCCI’s rate request and the Insurance Commissioner issues a formal decision. If the proposed rate decrease is approved, it will take effect January 1, 2020 and will apply to workers’ compensation policies as they are issued or renewed on or after that date.
Please note: The -5.4% decrease is an average rate decrease across all industry types. The rate change for your specific workers’ compensation policy may be different. The average proposed rate decrease by industry group is:
- Manufacturing -6.3%
- Contracting -7.4%
- Office & Clerical -4.94%
Gulfshore Insurance will provide additional information following the final rate decision. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact us. We are here to assist you and happy to answer any questions you have.
General industry and maritime employers making good-faith efforts to comply with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s silica regulation could avoid citations during the first 30 days after the agency begins enforcing the rule.
The Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica rule reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the construction industry, one-fifth of the previous maximum, as well as for general industry and the maritime industry at half of the previous maximum.
Most of the provisions of the general industry and maritime silica standard will become enforceable on June 23.
“During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will assist employers that are making good-faith efforts to meet the new standard’s requirements,” Galen Blanton, acting deputy assistant secretary for OSHA, said in a memorandum released Friday. “If upon inspection it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with agency procedures and consider citations for noncompliance with any applicable sections of the new standard. Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this 30-day time period will require National Office review prior to issuance.”
Hundreds of construction workers are killed every year from ladders and scaffolds, and many thousand more suffer serious injuries that are permanently disabling. And it is estimated that more than 30% of workers compensation claims costs stemming from construction sites are the result of falls from elevated surfaces.
A recent study indicated that injuries related to falls from elevated surfaces are more severe than other injury claims because these accidents result in more time away from work, damage to multiple body parts, and more short- and long-term disability leave.
Do Not Let These Accidents Happen to You
- A worker, who was standing on the top of a stepladder, fell when the ladder shifted. He suffered a spinal injury and was out of work for four months.
- Another worker failed to secure an extension ladder at the top and fell 20 feet when the ladder slipped away from the wall.
- Two men were working high up in a building atrium when their scaffold collapsed. They plunged four stories to a concrete deck. One man was dead on arrival at the hospital; the other was in critical condition.
- When a three-story wooden scaffold collapsed, two workers fell to the ground, suffering serious neck and back injuries. A third man working under the scaffolding was also injured.
It’s crucial for construction companies and their workers to implement regular safety training — and put that training to practice. Linked below are several helpful OSHA resources and fact sheets to improve worker safety at your organization:
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced that it has approved a rate decrease for workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. The 1.8% decrease was filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) in a law-only filing resulting from the effects of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida on or after June 1, 2018.
For more information about the filing, read the official release from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.