Major Occupational Health Groups to Study Impact of Increased Use of Marijuana and Other Drugs on Workplace Health and Safety

AAOHN and ACOEM will collaborate on education and recommendations aimed at raising awareness and better understanding of worker impairment

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Newswise — (March 10, 2014) The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) have announced they will collaborate to study workplace health and safety issues associated with worker impairment from the use of marijuana and other drugs.

Citing changing societal attitudes toward marijuana, including its increasing use for medicinal purposes and new state-decriminalization laws, ACOEM and AAOHN leaders said the occupational health profession can play an important role in helping the U.S. workplace prepare for the potential impacts of these trends.

“Twenty states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana and two states have approved its recreational use by adults,” said AAOHN President Pam Carter, RN. “With growing advocacy, other states seem ready to follow. Mainly because of such rapid change, both of our associations believe it is time to address workplace health and safety concerns when workers have impaired functioning from this and other drugs.”

“Marijuana is being viewed as a relatively harmless substance, but this may be a misconception by those who may be unaware of workplace safety issues that can arise when workers are under the influence of marijuana or other drugs,” said ACOEM President Ron Loeppke, MD. “To compound the issue, there is a dearth of scientific studies to support the nature of current marijuana products and their effect on workers.”

AAOHN and ACOEM will form a collaborative task force over the next several months to examine current science related to marijuana use and determine evidence-based education and recommendations that can be offered to support occupational and environmental professionals who consult with employers regarding workplace health policies.

AAOHN and ACOEM are the two largest membership organizations for occupational and environmental nurses and physicians who focus on worker protection from injuries and illnesses, prevention of time lost from work and productivity, avoidance of potential health-related job loss, and other health liabilities.

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About AAOHN — The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) is a 5,000 member professional association dedicated to advancing the health, safety, and productivity of domestic and global workforces by providing education, research, public policy, and practice resources for occupational and environmental health nurses throughout the United States and the world. These professionals are the largest group of health care providers serving the worksite. AAOHN is comprised of 120 chapter organizations that are incorporated agencies under their state regulations. For more information, visit www.aaohn.org.

About ACOEM — The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) represents nearly 4,500 physicians specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. Founded in 1916, ACOEM is the largest medical society in the United States dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education. For more information, visit www.acoem.org.


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