Workers on rural cannabis farms routinely use small, gas-fueled portable generators to charge their cell phones and play music during their days and nights harvesting crop. Unfortunately, lack of proper training on the devices recently led to five worker deaths.

Although commercial cannabis cultivation is approved in several states, there is still little state regulations governing field working conditions. A recent case in Northern California where workers died while sleeping in temporary greenhouses with a gas-powered generator running all night, demonstrates the need for legislation and safety training.

The deaths are serving as a wake-up call to California legislators who are currently drafting regulations to protect workers, and most importantly, placing liability on cannabis business owners and field managers, who are responsible for training employees and maintaining workplace safety standards even in an unregulated industry.

Workers must be trained on portable gas generator safety. Consider the following safety tips:

  1. Follow portable generator manufacturers’ recommendations on installation and use. Remember they are designed for temporary use.
  2. Operate the generator outdoors only, in an area with plenty of ventilation. Never run in a garage, greenhouse or other enclosed area.
  3. Use heavy-duty extension cords to connect appliances to the outlets on the generator.
  4. Turn the generator on before plugging in appliances.
  5. Keep the generator dry, i.e. under a canopy, to avoid it getting wet. Make sure hands are dry before touching the generator.
  6. Ensure the generator is turned off and cooled down before refueling.
  7. Keep combustible materials, children and pets away from the generator as many parts are hot enough to burn someone during operation.

Contact your HUB Agribusiness & Farm Risk Consultant for more information about enforcing safe workplace practices across your locations and satellite greenhouses