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OSHA Investigates Cannabis Cultivation Facilities for Respiratory Hazards


bright green marijuana plant

In January of 2022, a worker in a Massachusetts cannabis cultivation facility died because of “the hazards of ground cannabis dust,” according to a report issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).  The OSHA accident investigation report states “Filling pre-rolls She said she couldn’t breathe. Not being able to breathe Marijuana kief (dust) At 11:00 p.m. on January 7, 2022, an employee was grinding cannabis flowers, and packaging ground cannabis in pre-rolls. The employee could not breathe and was killed, due to the hazards of ground cannabis dust.”   A more recent report indicates the case is still open but does not list a cause of death.   The agency issued three citations for hazard communications violations to the operator with over $35,000 in penalties.  According to the operator, Trulieve, “PPE (personal protection equipment) was available onsite. They (OSHA) tested the air quality throughout the facility and the samples were all well below acceptable ranges.”

What does this mean?

OSHA violations can result in fines, bad press, and business disruption due to violation abatement.  The most commonly reported OSHA citations in the cannabis industry are:

  • Workplace Hazard Communication Plans
  • Employee Hazard Material Training  
  • Employee Personal Protection Equipment 
  • Workplace Fire Prevention Plans  
  • OSHA Form 300 & 301  

Respiratory-related citations may also be on the rise.  In 2019, OSHA cited an operator at a cultivation facility in Florida for a violation of respiratory protection regulation.  OSHA enforcement has increased in the new administration. 

Contact Donna Pryor or your Husch Blackwell LLP attorney for assistance on OSHA compliance matters. 


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