Duty of Care for the Legal Cannabis Industry - What it is, and Why You Need to Care
By: Sean Linnane
420 Security Advisors recommend that business owners in the legal cannabis industry seek safety and security awareness training to meet Duty-of-Care obligations to their employees. For the legal cannabis industry, everyone involved can be vulnerable to safety and security risks. More so than most other businesses, because you have something the bad guys want – drugs AND money.
Security concerns everybody employed in this burgeoning sector of the economy, from business owners, facilities managers, retail or dispensary employees, money counters, product processors, security guards or transportation personnel. Recent threats include smash-and grab thefts, transport holdups, armed takeover of dispensaries and grow facilities with hostage taking (to include employee’s families), shootouts with security and armed robbers, and of course the insider threat.
Employees are a company’s greatest investment in itself, while at the same time quite possibly an organizations’ greatest potential liability. When accidents, crime or disasters happen, a question that business owners and company executives should be prepared to answer is, “Was every possible measure taken to ensure employee’s safety and security?” This concept is known as an organizations’ ‘Duty of Care’ to its members. Duty of Care is a legal (and moral) obligation requiring a standard of reasonable care for any activity that could foreseeably cause harm.
“Trained personnel have a skill set and a plan to guide their
actions during an incident or a natural disaster, and are better
prepared for the challenges that may be present”
This is where safety and security training comes in. This type of training is driven by an organization’s responsibility to care for its members. Wherever employees (and contractors) go while engaged in company business, a legal bubble surrounds them – the company shares some responsibility for anything that might happen, because it wouldn’t have happened if they were not working for you at that location or time. Safety and security awareness training addresses specific risk vectors, with emphasis on business risks specific to the legal cannabis industry.
From a legal standpoint, documentation that employees attended this kind of training proves duty of care on behalf of company owners. Trained employees can protect themselves from adverse risks by following lessons learned and company policy. For example: if a policy is for employees to hand over cash or product during an armed robbery and to not put themselves or others at risks by resisting, and they don’t follow procedures and someone gets hurt, from a liability standpoint it can be proven that: A) there is a policy against resisting, B) training was provided on how to deal with an armed robbery, and C) employees had attended, signed an attendance sheet, and a copy of the curriculum was provided where the policy was covered in detail. This reduces liability exposure by proving everything realistically possible was done to protect employees, vendors and customers.
Other safety or security threats may be present at the business premises itself. Is there armed security present? Have your employees or armed security been briefed or trained for handling criminal threats, or situations involving gunfire, even if the gunfire incident is accidental and non-lethal? Have they been trained on how to identify and de-escalate threatening situations? Do they have the tools and training for “less than lethal” tactics? Training to address such circumstances may include weapons familiarization, and a trip to the firing range to accustom employees to the sounds and effects of gunfire. Workplace active shooter training and plans are becoming more common nowadays. Trauma medical training is a natural fit, and can be delivered in as little as three hours.
Safety and security training also contributes to an organization’s ability to spring back from a disruption to its operations, i.e., a company’s business resilience. Trained personnel have a skill set and a plan to guide their actions during an incident or a natural disaster, and are better prepared for the challenges that may be present. Safety and security training can also be a team builder, with immediate measurable results.
The training I deliver to 420 Security Advisors’ customers is well received and has been validated by the personal experiences of past trainees. The next time a person tells me, “The technique you taught me made a difference, significantly helped resolve a very bad situation,” will not be the first. Hearing such words, in fact, is the greatest reward for what I do, and it is remarkable how often this occurs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sean Linnane is a retired Special Forces NCO who has been developing and instructing security and safety related courses to government organizations, NGOs, academic clients and private industry for over 20 years. Sean is a contributing writer and instructor for 420 Security Advisors.