Consequences of Cannabis Use in the Workplace

Master Builders Association North (MBA North), in collaboration with the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) and The Institute for Work at Height (IWH) are staging a special seminar in Midrand on 27 November 2018 to address this burning issue.

For more details of this event scroll to the the end of this article.

Best Practice Note regarding Intoxication at the Workplace


On 18 September 2018 the Constitutional Court decriminalised the possession, consumption and private cultivation of cannabis for private use at homes. The decision was welcomed by many who use the plant for medicinal purposes however some clarification is required e.g. permissible amounts and the definition of private use.

A viable concern exists that this ruling will cultivate regular use that will in turn negatively affect health and safety in the workplace and on public roads as well as increase addiction and a number of other social problems.

SAFCEC has undertaken to compile a Best Practice Note to emphasize the importance of providing and maintaining a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health and safety of employees, contractors and visitors.

Until the General Safety Regulations are amended it is SAFCEC’s definitive advice to apply the following excerpt as well as the recommended actions at the bottom of this document:

General Safety Regulation 2A

An employer or a user, shall not permit any person who is or who appears to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, to enter or remain at a workplace.

No person at a workplace shall be under the influence of or have in his or her possession or partake of or offer any other person intoxicating liquor or drugs.

An employer or user shall in the case where a person is taking medicines, only allow such person to perform duties at the workplace if the side effects of such medicine do not constitute a threat to the health or safety of the person concerned or other persons at such workplace.”


Cannabis is also known as dagga, weed, grass, marijuana or hemp. Hemp is like dagga but without the narcotic effect. Dagga is usually rolled with tobacco and smoked in a joint or pipe. It can be eaten in foods or drank in tea and oils.

Misuse is the deliberate or unintentional use of prescribed or other drugs that can harm the misuser both physically and mentally. Through the misuser’s actions, other people and the environment could be at risk.


Occupational Health and Safety Act Section 8 – General duties of employers to their employees Occupational Health and Safety Act Section 14 – General duties of employees at work General Safety Regulations 2A – Intoxication Construction Regulations Sections 5, 7, and 9 General Machinery Regulations Driven Machinery Regulations Road Traffic Act Section 65


Drugs can affect the brain and the body in a number of ways. They can alter the way a person thinks, perceives and feels, and this can lead to either impaired judgement or concentration. Drug abuse can also bring about the neglect of general health and safety. This may adversely influence performance at work, even when the misuse takes place outside the workplace.

Drug misuse can be a serious problem not only for the misuser but also for their families, work, communities, other road users and co-workers.

The cost of incidents, injuries, absenteeism, loss of productivity are some risks that have to be considered.


The following are generalisations and may differ from person to person. Please consult with a medical practitioner for subject matter advice.

Impaired concentration,

Sudden mood changes, poor time-keeping, irritability or aggression, fluctuating energy, dishonesty and theft, absenteeism, memory problems, anxiety.

Different methods of taking the drug may affect your body differently. Cannabis users are often relaxed, talkative and with a heightened sense of sound and colour. Cannabis usually increases appetite and causes red eyes due to blood vessels expanding in the eyes.

The duration of the drug in the blood stream also differs from person to person. Through adequate testing and screening traces should be detected. It is a company’s prerogative on how they wish to handle traces found of historic use, however we advise that actual intoxication should not be tolerated as per the excerpt of General Safety Regulation 2A.


Consult with subject matter experts, H&S representatives, unions etc. Getting the support of your workforce for any change in company rules will be much easier if staff or their representatives have been involved.

Develop policies or review existing policies. Communicate the policies to all employees and other stakeholders. Key elements of a policy are: Aims, Responsibility, Definitions, Rules,

Safeguards, Confidentiality, Help, Information, Disciplinary Action and Review

Conduct Risk Assessments and communicate it to all involved

Competent persons should present Training and awareness programs on the effects, signs, symptoms, consequences and addiction. 

Drug Screening and Testing – a fair and transparent process must be followed. Screening can be used in various ways e.g. selection process for job applicants, testing routinely, occasionally or on random basis or in specific circumstances such as after an incident. Screening must be done by a competent person.

Rehabilitation programmes in-house or outsourced. Employees with a drug problem should have the same rights to confidentiality and support as they would if they had any other medical or psychological condition.

Disciplinary action should be taken as a last resort. The process must be fair.

Consequences of Cannabis Use in the Workplace”, is presented by MBA North in Partnership with SAFCEC and IWH and will be held at the Bytes Conference Centre in Midrand on 27 November 2018 from 08:30 to 13:00.

The cost of the Seminar is R 150.00 per person.

To register visit



This initiative is endorsed by FEM, BCIMA, MBSA, OHS Care, NIOH, ILO, Legricon and THABO Training Service.

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