A Review of 2022 Cannabis Safety Incidents

A Review of 2022 Cannabis Safety Incidents


This is the year to make sure all aspects of risk and compliance are covered for your cannabis operations; including Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).
Environmental, Health and Safety is a general term used to refer to laws, rules, regulations, professions, programs, and workplace efforts to protect the health and safety of employees and the public as well as the environment from hazards associated with the workplace. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent incidents such as injuries, illnesses, and environmental
releases to air, soil, or waterways. These rules are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Just one year ago, on January 7, 2022, an incident occurred at the facility of a Multistate Operator (MSO) in Massachusetts where an employee died from inhalation of ground cannabis dust.
OSHA published the findings from their June 30, 2022 investigation report; but to protect the privacy of the injured employee, few details on the incident were initially shared with the public,
leaving industry stakeholders with ambiguity on how best to protect employees from similar incidents.

A review of EHS implications from this incident follow:
1. The employee complained about not being able to breathe while filling her duties grinding cannabis flower and packaging pre-rolls.
It is never acceptable to disregard employee concerns for safety; and OSHA increases the penalty severity for operators practice willful neglect. The fines listed in the investigation report are largely for violations of the Hazard Communication Program. I would not be surprised to see additional fines; specifically targeting the willful neglect of
management to address a known, and documented hazard.

2. Though PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) was available at the facility, OSHA cited the company as being in violation of 1910.1200 -Hazard Communication.
The OSHA Hazard Communication rule clearly specifies how employers must communicate workplace hazards via training, signage, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), etc.
Potential reasons for this citation could be:
a. No hazard communication program in place
b. No SDS for hazardous chemicals; including cannabis dust
c. SDS’s not being stored in an area accessible to all employees at all times
d. Inadequate signage/ warnings of workplace hazards
e. Inadequate training on properly donning and doffing of respirators
f. Inadequate training on storage of PPE
g. Inadequate training on respirator cleaning and maintenance

3. OSHA has levied fines totaling $35,219.
This is the current tally on citations and fines. I would anticipate additional citations and penalties as the investigation continues. It is not uncommon for investigations of significant incidents to last well into a year post incident. As of the printing of this article, 1/3/2022, the OSHA investigation is still listed as open.

4. In March of 2022, the MSO Pennsylvania facility was cited by OSHA for failing to report workplace incidents. A Florida facility, this same MSO was cited for violating, 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection in 2019.


OSHA requires that in situations when airborne contaminants are of risk, that a respiratory protection program be in place. This includes the use of respirators and air control devices to minimize risks to human health when air quality is below permissible levels.

When companies habitually violate commonwealth laws, regulators tend to look for better ways to grab your attention. In serious situations, such as a fatality; criminal charges are not uncommon.
How can you be sure you’re protecting your employees’ safety and operational risks? Knowing where to find the information is half the battle. So as a courtesy, we’ve linked corresponding OSHA regulations throughout the article for your reference and internal review.

If you would like a detailed assessment of your safety program, schedule a free consultation with the experts at Delta Compliance today.

Talya D. Mayfield

Talya Mayfield is the CEO and Principal consultant for Delta Compliance Consulting. Talya has a B.S. in Biology, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering Management, and a Certificate in Lean Six Sigma.
She spent 8 years in cement manufacturing and hazardous waste working on a range of environmental compliance requirements, from improving safety and employee exposure, to hazardous material management and disposal permitting.

She has now merged this expertise with her love of all things cannabis, and launched Delta Compliance Consulting to help cannabis operators run safe, compliant and successful facilities.