Blog Post #1412 – Coping with Substance Use in the Canadian Workplace – Part Four

Report from the OH&S Canada magazine (Sept. 2021)

Original Report from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety


Canada’s legalization of cannabis in 2018 sparked a national conversation on substance use and the stigmas surrounding addiction.

As the conversation evolves, employers should review their policies and guidelines around substance use and educate their employees about the risks of working while impaired.

In doing so, they will create environments where workers feel safe and supported when asking for help.

To ensure these policies and guidelines are effective, it’s important to be aware of substance use in the workplace, and what the workplace can do to address possible impairment.

Overcoming Stigma

Stigma is any attitude, belief or behaviour that discriminates against people, which can often include workplace policies and the language used within them.

Stigma surrounding use, addiction and recovery is powerful, and often prevents people who use substances from seeking help for fear of appearing unreliable or weak. They may also fear losing their jobs.

To create an environment where workers struggling with substance use feel comfortable coming forward, check policies for stigmatizing language and update them with empathetic and neutral alternatives.

Acknowledge the various forms of impairment without adding value judgements.

Emphasize that substance use is something that can affect all levels of an organization and provide training on recognizing signs of impairment and how to respond appropriately.

Include and inform employees about accommodations and return-to-work options. Make them aware of resources and where they can go to for help.

One of the most impactful ways to support employees is to model person-first language when speaking about it.

Words matter – you can help support workers who are struggling, while breaking down stigma with each conversation you start.

My opinion

I am very excited about this report. The 4th, and last, part of the report has been completed and this 4-part miniseries shows the attention to detail the CCOHS goes to when writing about a serious subject such as this one.

They have been one of my favorite go-to agencies when needing material about health and safety issues.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “All accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level

CEO and Training Director




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