Worker’s Compensation Insurance, A Key Component For Cannabis Business Owners

Cannabis business owners have a great deal of responsibility when running a cannabis business. Aside from the day-to-day business dealings with inventory, revenue, compliance, employee relations and more. Often certain aspects of insurance needs and requirements can be overlooked. One of those requirements is worker’s compensation insurance. For those that don’t know, worker’s compensation is a state mandated program that provides certain benefits for employees that suffer injuries or illnesses on the job. In many states the program provides coverage even if the employee is at fault, or put another way, if the employee causes the injury and the injury is job related.

s2s insurance, eric rahn, workers compensation, cannabis insurance, dispensary insurance, cannabis lab testing insuranceWorker’s compensation programs covers most work related injuries typically unless an employee is intoxicated or under the influence of an illegal drug. That last detail can come into play for cannabis business owners and their employees because of the Schedule I classification of cannabis which deems marijuana as an illegal drug similar to cocaine or heroin. This possible exception is why it is critical that cannabis business owners work with experienced cannabis insurance specialists like Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance Specialists when reviewing and investing in worker’s compensation policies for their business. Worker’s compensation will pay for diagnosing and treating your injury, and will also pay hospital and medical expenses that accompany that diagnosis. Some state worker’s compensation programs may also pay for rehabilitation, retraining, and other benefits.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $225,046 in penalties against a Colorado manufacturer for machine safety hazards after an employee was killed while working on a forging machine.

OSHA issued citations to Vforge Inc. in Lakewood for two willful and two serious safety violations for failing to develop lockout/tagout procedures, provide adequate machine guarding and train employees in a language they understand. OSHA also placed Vforge in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The citations say that an employee who had almost no ability to communicate in English was killed while servicing a press at Vforge’s factory on March 23. He had not been trained on proper safety procedures.

“Employers are legally required to implement appropriate procedures and provide training to protect their employees’ safety,” stated OSHA Englewood Area Office Director David Nelson. “This tragedy could have been prevented if safety measures were in place to prevent machinery from starting while being serviced.”

s2s insurance, eric rahn, workers compensation, cannabis insurance, who insures the marijuana industry, marijuana insurance specialistsNot all employers are required to have worker’s compensation coverage. The state where your business is located will dictate the requirements for worker’s compensation coverage. Employer’s responsibility to provide coverage often depends on how many employees it has, what type of business it is, and what type of work the employees are doing. It is important to note that every state excludes certain types of workers. To learn more about what your specific state requires and what exclusions exist in your state you should contact a cannabis insurance specialist at S2S Insurance for information specific to your situation. Not having worker’s compensation coverage, or not having proper procedures in place to protect your employees can cost employers thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, and penalties. It is important as a cannabis business owner to have a risk management strategy that includes worker’s compensation coverage.


How Workers Compensation Insurance Benefits Cannabis Businesses

As a cannabis business owner there are certain responsibilities and requirements that cannot be avoided. One requirement that causes trouble for some employers is workers compensation.  Most states require employers to carry workers compensation insurance with few exceptions other than number of employees. States vary on the number of employees any employer must have before carrying workers compensation but it can be as few as five or even one employee. While on the surface carrying workers compensation can seem like an unnecessary burden for the employer, it is important to recognize the benefits of the coverage.

cannabis workers compensation, s2s insurance, eric rahn, dispensary insurance, lab testing insuranceWorkers compensation insurance and coverage is designed to protect the employer in instances where an employee gets hurt on the job. If this coverage were not mandated or not available to employers, businesses would be at risk for law suits with every employee that walked through the door. Whether you are a start up cannabis dispensary, or a large manufacturer of cannabis goods, a single law suit could ruin your business in the blink of an eye. Even if a business is successful in defending against an employee law suit, they would have spent thousands of dollars in court and legal fees to do so. If they were to lose the case they would have those same fees, plus the cost of damages, and in some instances they may also have to pay the legal fees of the employee! Now imagine that scenario but add in the fact that if you don’t have workers compensation insurance in a state where it’s required, you can also be fined, even see your business possibly temporarily shut down until the matter is resolved.

The California Supreme Court on Thursday, Aug. 23 sided with employers in a fight over the right of workers to sue over treatment for injuries that occur on the job.

Workers receiving medical care through the workers’ compensation insurance of their employer generally cannot sue a doctor who decides whether treatment is needed, the court said in a unanimous decision.

The ruling came in the case of injured worker Kirk King, who says he suffered seizures after a doctor discontinued his anxiety medication.

The justices said King had to pursue his claims against the doctor through a separate workers’ compensation system set up by the Legislature, not through the courts.

The California Chamber of Commerce and insurance groups had warned that a ruling in favor of King would open the door to additional lawsuits that would drive up employers’ premiums for workers’ compensation insurance.

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Another benefit to workers compensation whether for traditional employers or for the cannabis industry is that workers compensation insurance is monitored by state governments. The full benefit of this fact may vary among states, but as referenced in the article above, state governments look to balance the rights of the worker with the costs to the employer. Employers will always want to spend less and employees will always want more, but states do their best to be a neutral arbiter when crafting laws and legislation dealing with workers compensation, as evidenced above. Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance makes a concise statement regarding workers compensation, “chances are you have to have it, and you do not want to get caught without it.”


Worker’s Compensation Provides Relief To Cannabis Employees and Employers

Cannabis related businesses are becoming more common as each state passes some form of legalization. The marijuana industry faces it’s own special set of regulatory concerns due to the Schedule I status of the marijuana plant. While the cannabis industry does have special circumstances and restrictions, it does share commonalities with other traditional business models. One of those commonalities is worker’s compensation laws. All states have some form of worker’s compensation requirement and cannabis related businesses must comply with these requirements like any other business.

S2S Insurance, Eric Rahn, Workers compensation, dispensary insurance, cannabis insurance specialistWorker’s compensation, often referred to as worker’s comp, is a state-mandated program required by law to make payments to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with his or her employment. Each individual state has its own individual worker’s compensation insurance program. Not all states require businesses to carry worker’s compensation insurance, but it is an option. The coverage also benefits employers because the coverage insulates businesses from the possibility of paying out large damage awards to injured employees in civil actions. Depending on the state, the employee may be entitled to medical benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability, permanent total disability benefits, death benefits, and funeral benefits.

The horrific death of Carlos Gabrielli on a Westerleigh construction site should shock us all to the core. His throat slashed by an electrical saw after a slip and fall, he died in an ambulance after his coworkers frantically tried to stanch the bleeding with the shirts off their backs in the immediate aftermath of the gruesome accident.

As the Advance notes in its coverage, this was only the second of three dreadful workplace accidents in Staten Island last week. One day later, a crane collapsed at the construction site of a new Amazon warehouse in Rosebank. One worker’s leg reportedly “snapped in half.” Three days before that, a 25-year-old electrician was knocked unconscious at a construction site in Bloomfield after a small panel explosion exposed him to a 500 volt arc of electricity.

These kinds of workplace accidents, unfortunately, are not rare. On average, 13 workers die on the job every day in this country. Most of these deaths are completely preventable.

S2S Insurance, marijuana insurance, cannabis testing lab insurance, marijuana doctor insuranceThe worker’s compensation system allows your employees to be better employees, and if frees you up as the employer from concerns about facing lawsuits brought by injured employees. Even if the employee is negligent and somehow causes their own injury,  they are still entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. S2S Insurance will always advocate for employers providing safe working conditions for their employees’ well being and also to help minimize risk for the employer. Accidents do happen at the work place, and when they do, S2S Insurance can have you as an employer prepared with a worker’s compensation insurance policy. If you don’t know your state’s policies regarding worker’s compensation or how your marijuana related business could be impacted, reach out to S2S Insurance and we can help you take a look at your potential risks. “Your insurance specialist should be a key advisor to your business, just as your accountant and your attorney”-Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance.