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Ask an officer: Managing risks in cannabis processing

Published on: August 18, 2022

Since the industry was legalized in 2018, we have been engaging with employers in cannabis processing. Employers have had questions about how to safely install equipment and what regulations and jurisdictions apply. Occupational hygiene officer Kimiko Banati answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Kimiko Banati

Occupational Hygiene Officer, Richmond
Years on the job: 10

Where should I start with controlling risks in cannabis processing?

Start early. It’s never too soon in the planning stage to think about health and safety. Ask yourself what health and safety concerns you have and what you’re currently doing to control them.

Once hazards are identified, select and implement effective and reliable controls using the hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. For example, use engineering controls to pipe the pressure relief devices to the outside of the building, or bleed bolts to secure pressure vessels. These measures help prevent uncontrolled releases of hazardous solvents.

Employers must be familiar with relevant standards and regulations to ensure controls are implemented (for example, ULC 1389 and ULC 4400 are Canadian Standards relevant to cannabis processing).

How can I ensure my equipment meets regulations?

Processing and extraction equipment is highly sophisticated and requires careful planning to safely operate. The facility, equipment, and human interactions need to be looked at together or potential failures can be missed. Factors to consider when analyzing the process:

  • Processing procedures
  • Hazard properties including quantities and locations
  • Facility and equipment design
  • Worker interactions with the system

Engaging early with experts will help prevent expensive and possibly dangerous mistakes.

Whether installing new equipment or maintaining current equipment, employers must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When hiring an engineer, they should be well versed on the equipment and understand the associated regulations for cannabis processing.

How can I maintain my equipment and health and safety program?

Ensuring workplace health and safety is an ongoing process. Employers must monitor their systems, engage with workers, and test controls. This will let you know that the controls are reliable and will work when you need them.

Connecting with workers provides valuable insight. Proposed controls may only work if they are suitable and practicable for your workers to use. Feedback and insight can prevent a disastrous outcome you thought was being controlled.

Keep track of controls: document maintenance, repairs/replacements, calibrations, and inspections.

How can I manage the different jurisdictions in my industry?

This is a tall task; at times, regulatory requirements can be daunting. Take time to understand what jurisdictions or regulations apply to you. If you are unsure — ask. We are here to help and provide information. Other authorities for health and safety requirements:

  1. Office of the Fire Commissioner
  2. Technical Safety BC (pressure vessels, natural gas systems)

Where can I get more information?

Access the following resources on our site:

If you have questions about health and safety in your workplace or industry, call the Prevention Information Line at 1.888.621.SAFE, to be connected with an occupational safety or hygiene officer.

Looking for answers to your specific health and safety questions? Send them to us at and we’ll consider them for our next “Ask an officer” feature.

This information originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of WorkSafe Magazine. To read more or to subscribe, visit WorkSafe Magazine.

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