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A decade after legalization, Pinnacol hashes out workplace risks for Colorado cannabis industry; shares tips for keeping workers safe

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Despite 4/20 rush, April is safest month for cannabis workers

DENVER — April 19, 2022— Ten years after Colorado legalized recreational cannabis and 22 years after medical cannabis legalization, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, released an updated analysis of Colorado’s cannabis industry’s most common occupational injury trends.

According to Pinnacol’s claims data, approximately 480 Coloradans working in cannabis retail, cultivation, manufacturing, clerical support and transportation were injured on the job in 2021. The five most common injury causes were:

  • Strain
  • Fall or slip
  • Cut
  • “Struck by” (being hit by something)
  • “Strike” (person hitting something)

Other findings from Pinnacol’s claims data:

  • Despite “4/20” events and promotions, April is the safest month for cannabis workers. Most workers’ compensation claims occur in August and October. The most severe claims occur in December when weather conditions can cause more slips and falls and motor vehicle accidents.  Employers should train employees about how to navigate these conditions while walking and driving
  • Common injuries include sprains, falls and cuts to fingers, a risk employers can mitigate relatively easily by enforcing the use of protective gloves when trimming, pruning or handling product. 
  • Seventy percent of injuries were incurred by men aged 20-29. Consistent with other industries, workers are most at risk in their first six months of employment, with 38% of all injuries occurring in that time period.  
  • Seventy-six percent of claims occur during normal business hours, with most of them happening between 10 a.m. and noon. Cannabis businesses also had a low incidence of workplace violence, equating to fewer than 3% of claims. 
  • Motor vehicle accidents are responsible for the most severe and most costly claims. Approximately 50% of these occur within the first six months of hire and tend to affect younger workers. 

Learn more about Colorado’s booming cannabis industry and what Pinnacol does to support these employers and their workers


About Pinnacol  Pinnacol Assurance puts care to work as Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurance carrier. We operate as a mutual insurance company, providing caring coverage for more than 1 million workers in the state. We focus on saving our customers money through careful rate-setting, general dividends and our award-winning safety programs. You can see our care for Colorado at work through our grantmaking, scholarships, volunteerism and award-winning apprenticeship program and through our championing diversity, equity and inclusion. Learn more at Pinnacol.com.

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