Founded in 2020 under the BC Cooperatives Act, the BC Craft Farmers Co-op (BCCFC) was established to help cannabis farmers transition to the legal market, maintain BC’s top position as an international cannabis leader and innovator, and provide medical and recreational cannabis consumers around the world with high-quality BC cannabis.

Once established, the BCCFC Board created a Quality Committee, comprised of Members and Supporters, to prioritize current issues and guide work plans. Through this process, and alongside the pandemic in the fall of 2020, health and safety emerged as a top priority.

With the end of Canada’s cannabis prohibition and the transition to a new, legal market; governments, public agencies, and the industry have a unique opportunity to build on BC’s brand and establish a world-class standard for all aspects of craft cannabis farming. This includes the adoption of an occupational health and safety culture from the ‘start’.

BCCFC contacted WorkSafeBC to discuss opportunities to collaborate, and a project was announced in 2021. BCCFC’s collaboration with WorkSafe BC represents an important first step to achieving this vision. The project identified two safety goals:

  • survey licensed medical and craft cannabis farmers and processors to assess their awareness of health and safety issues; and
  • develop a 3-5-year health and safety plan to support this emerging sector, reduce the total number of workplace injuries, and adopt best practices from other agriculture sectors.

BCCFC developed a long-form survey to gain a more complete understanding of the sector’s current awareness of occupational health and safety issues. Following the 2022 BC Cannabis Summit in April, a 12-question online survey was launched.

Farmers, processors, and ancillary employers were invited to share comments and perspectives. Below is a summary of the 71 results received:


feel safety in the workplace is important and will continue to grow in importance


pay WorkSafeBC premiums



carry liability insurance



have a first aid attendant on site at their facility


have workplace safety policies in place


are aware of WorkSafeBC’s cannabis classification unit


have 5 or fewer FTE:
5-10 FTE (18%)
10+ FTE (20%)


Farmers/ Processors (32); Supporters (26);
Retailers (13)


Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley (20); Vancouver Island (18); Okanagan (16)

QUESTION: WorkSafeBC has identified the most frequent workplace injuries that occur during cannabis production and processing activities. Which categories are most relevant to you?

Cuts (34) Strains and sprains (31) Falls or slips (22) Foreign body – exposure to chemicals and irritants; eye injuries (12)

QUESTION: Cannabis producers, processors and nurseries use numerous pieces of equipment. Each presents a certain safety risk. Which applies to your operations?

Ladders (29) Lighting (28) Sharp tools (28) Power Tools (19)
Water pumps (20) HVAC/Dehumidifiers (24) High voltage power supply (16) Heavy machinery, tractors, forklifts (16)
Pressure vessels/compressed gas (11) Extraction equipment (10)

Automated trimmers (8)


Lab instruments/vacuum ovens/fumehoods (6)

QUESTION: Cannabis producers, processors and nurseries use numerous products that present a certain safety risk. Which apply to your operations?

Detergents/Sanitation products (30) Fertilizers – salts/organics (24) Solvents/lubricants/fuels (19) Compressed gasses (12)
Pesticides – chemical/biological (11) Explosives, flammable substances (10)

Corrosive, caustic substances (10)


Cryogenic materials (5)


QUESTION: Cannabis producers, processors and nurseries are exposed to other risks in their day-to-day operations. Which applies to your operations?

Slips (34) Falls (22) Ergonomics (24)
Musculoskeletal strain (27) Carry heavy weights (21) Emotional and mental health (18)
Awkward extended postures (23) Bending or stooping (35) Gripping objects using a pinch grip (12)

The project’s engagement process and long-form survey provided employers with an opportunity to provide examples of safety policies and suggestions regarding helpful tools BCCFC could provide. These suggestions guide proposed work plan priorities:

Policy and Practice Examples Helpful tools BCCFC could provide?

Training and yearly audits;

ISO Certification

Promote a more natural way of cultivating cannabis without the use of dangerous chemicals
Prevention is always the best option Create OHS safety manual template with internal safety audit documents
Regular safety meetings Hold educational seminars on personal and product safety; Lunch & Learn sessions
Common sense Collaborate with Ag Safe and WorkSafe
Eye wash station Appoint a Health and Safety officer
Following COVID 19 precautions Get things like sick leave and panic buttons
First Aid kits SOPs templates for sanitation, chemical use, product movement, PPE, equipment maintenance

Policies adopted from forestry business;

Mandatory steel toed footwear

Respiratory safety protocol that outlines minimum rating of mask or filtration units
Avoid strain, slip, fall, bang into, jab

Encourage random inspections;

Hold managers accountable

High visibility vest, gloves, goggles, N95 masks, suits Create list of most common injuries and what they can do to mitigate the risk right away

Clean up water or spills on floor to prevent slips and falls


Secure government investment for cannabis sector innovations, training and purchase safety equipment
Use eye protection when mixing fertilizer, or cleaning products Protecting workers and promoting safety is key to the sustainability of our industry
New worker orientation Engage with Health Canada re: medical farmer outreach
Proper use of tools, lifting techniques, PPE supplied by the company  

Temperature controls


SOPs dictate how everything is done