Workplace Safety Awareness Campaign

Founded in 2020 under the BC Cooperatives Act, the BC Craft Farmers Co-op (BCCFC) was established to help cannabis farmers transition to the new legal market, maintain BC’s global cannabis brand, and ensure patients and consumers have access to BC cannabis products.

Once established, the founding BCCFC Board created a Quality Committee 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 of legal cultivation.

BCCFC contacted WorkSafe BC to discuss partnership opportunities. WorkSafe BC recognized the need based on their experience, and a project funding agreement was completed in February 2021.


WorkSafeBC has established dedicated classification codes for cannabis cultivation, processing and product manufacturing (Unit #701031), and cannabis retail (#741013).

The cultivation unit’s premium rate is 1.61% of the total salaries – suggesting a high injury rate, similar to sawmills.  The retail unit’s premium is .051%.

Based on the risks and hazards in the classification unit, WorkSafeBC regulation specifies mandatory minimum levels of first aid, including what type of kits, facilities and equipment are required.

AgSafe BC is a provincial agency, funded by employers, to promote OHS programs and help reduce injury rates in BC’s agriculture sector – including cannabis. AgSafe BC has a network of local consultants and numerous resources available to support BC cannabis farmers.

BCCFC’s collaboration with WorkSafeBC represents an important first step toward the development of a new occupational health and safety (OHS) culture in the craft and medical cannabis production and processing sector. The project identified two safety goals:


  • survey licensed medical 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, reducing the total number of workplace injuries and adopting best practices from other agriculture sectors.

project work plan

For this project, farmers and processor employers are defined as:

  • Health Canada licence holder to produce medicinal cannabis for designated individuals.
  • Health Canada micro-class licence holder to produce or process cannabis for the legal recreation market.
  • Health Canada licenced cannabis nursery or testing laboratory.
  • An active application for one of these licences.

Ancillary employers are defined as any organization collaborating with farmers and/or processors, including equipment manufacturers, insurance providers, professional QA consultants, product suppliers and retailers.

To develop internal knowledge and inform analysis, the project work plan has three phases:

Phase One: Organization

Activity: Gather contact information for cultivators and processors through word of mouth, outreach and hosting information sessions.

Goal: Build trust and awareness in an industry that has been operating largely underground and under the stigma of being illegal.

Phase Two: Engagement

Activity: Meet with and survey farmers and processors for health and safety awareness, knowledge, and needs.

Goal: Confirmed knowledge of the level of occupational health and safety in the industry.

Phase Three: Strategic Planning

Activity: Categorize and prioritize goals for health and safety in the craft cannabis sector. Also, develop a 3-5 year plan for health and safety needs in BC’s craft cannabis industry.

Goal: Understand what activities existing cultivators are doing and how to make them safer.

long-form survey

Among other things, BCCFC’s project committee developed a long-form questionnaire to gain a better understanding of the sector’s current awareness of occupational health and safety issues.  The survey was launched following the April 2022 BC Cannabis Summit where OHS was a major theme. Click the button below to see a summary of the OHS survey results.

next steps (december 2022)

  • Review draft three-year strategy framework with AgSafe BC and WorkSafeBC
  • Host two-to-three roundtable meetings virtual/in-person to review the report
  • Incorporate OHS theme and partnership in the 2023 BC Cannabis Summit and Trade Show
  • Release final draft of BC Craft Cannabis workplace health and safety plan that identifies current and future sector needs in health and safety education, training and support
  • Ongoing communications with BCCFC members and stakeholders