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Changes to drug laws may make workplaces less safe

No matter what a company makes or sells, the first priority in any workplace is safety. When mistakes lead to any sort of painful or debilitating accidents, a company may be found liable for the costs of recovery through workers' compensation payments. These facts were not always the case, as generations of workers had to build to those protections.

One universal rule regarding workplace safety is similar to one of the most important rules of the road. Consumption of alcohol or unauthorized drugs at a workplace or in a way that affects work is explicitly against most companies' rules as well as state and municipal laws. A potential change to these laws may also affect strategies supporting workplace safety.

The largest business association in Wisconsin has warned the government in Madison to reconsider a plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The psychoactive drug often makes changes to cognition and judgment, which may affect a person's safe operation on work sites, especially in construction and manufacturing where the work environment is already full of risk.

A nationwide study indicates that workers who test positive for the drug are 55 percent more likely to be involved in an industrial accident and 85 percent more likely to have a workplace injury. Many companies are worried that fewer legal restrictions on marijuana use may increase its presence and effect among workers and in the workplace.

Anyone injured in the workplace due to a person's or company's action may be eligible for workers' compensation payment to cover their medical expenses. An attorney can help accident victims work out their options.

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