Impaired Standard May Miss Workers

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission was tasked to create standards for a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (WIRE) certification to determine whether an employee presented as impaired along with related procedures. This would include education and training in detecting and identifying an employee’s usage of, or impairment from, marijuana or a product of marijuana or other intoxicating substance, and assisting in the investigation of workplace accidents.

The document includes a Reasonable Suspicion Observed Behavior Report for the WIRE designees to document the cause for the reasonable suspicion of substance use (marijuana), a list of physical signs and symptoms and behavioral indicators, and areas to document more descriptive observations of the employee. The form must be completed by two WIRE designees.

While the purpose of creating a standardized program for the state is needed and commended, the extensive training requirements for the New Jersey WIRE designee seem to be unreasonably difficult placing a burden on employers. Furthermore, a worker assessed as “impaired” using the identified indicators might suggest the employee should be immediately evaluated in the emergency department of the hospital rather than sent for a drug test. The elevated threshold of this impairment standard may miss less impaired workers and places employers and their workers at great risk.

Download NJ Standards on Workplace Impairment