Workers’ Compensation: 10 more issues to watch for 2017

Workers’ Compensation: 10 more issues to watch for 2017

The first Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark webinar of 2017 provided our thoughts on the 20 Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2017.

In early January we discussed what we consider as the first 10 issues that workers’ comp professionals need to be aware of in the coming year. What follows is a summary of the remaining 10 issues we talked about:

11. Impaired workforce

After the November elections, eight states and the District of Columbia allow for recreational use of marijuana. This means around one in five people live in a state where recreational marijuana is now legal.

For employers, this means the reality that a percentage of your workforce is likely impaired. Years ago many employers stopped doing pre-employment drug testing because they couldn’t get enough applicants to pass to fill their jobs. New OSHA regulations from 2016 seek to significantly limit the use of post-injury drug testing, which further inhibits employers looking to maintain a drug-free workplace policy.

Related: Seeing marijuana through the haze of myths

The answers to this issue are challenging. Drug testing for marijuana always focused on whether the drug was present in the system because it was illegal. It can be detected in the system 30 days after use, but showing presence of the drug doesn’t show impairment. This is an area in which the science needs to catch up with social reality. We need an established standard for what constitutes impairment when it comes to marijuana.

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