No Smoking Includes Vape: Reminding Employees Not to Use E-Cigarettes at Work

man vaping at construction site

Vaping has been in the news a lot lately.

While smoking e-cigarettes is legal and largely unregulated in Canada, there are significant health factors associated with vapes. When it comes health and safety in the workplace, vaping is treated essentially as any other tobacco smoking.

Vaping is prohibited in enclosed workplaces. Its use outdoors, such as at construction sites, leaves us in more of a gray area. Let’s find out how and why.

Smoking Policy for Tobacco and Vaping

e-cigarette vaping gearEmployers today need must clearly define, as part of an overall health and safety plan, the rules in regards to the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

The process of reminding employees starts with a comprehensive policy on the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. Most companies already have a smoking policy and should incorporate the e-cigarettes reminders as a part of the existing policy. Given the recent in trends in legalized cannabis, many companies are finding the need for reminders for that substance as well.

Background of e-Cigarettes at Work and for Recreation

An electronic cigarette, also known as and e-cigarette, is a family of battery-powered products that contain a form of liquid nicotine. Yes, the same nicotine that has been a problem with smoking cigarettes for years! The e-cigarette device converts the liquid int a vapor which is inhaled by the user. The vapor aspect is why the use of e-cigarettes, is also referred to as “vaping.”

construction worker at siteThe emission of vapor may not be as harmful as smoke, but as the vapor contains nicotine, this can pose a heath risk to other employees in the workplace, along with the potential to be a smelly nuisance to others. Given the potential health risks to others and difficulty of monitoring what may be employees smoking or vaping, most companies have developed a comprehensive policy that bans all forms of smoking in the workplace.

For many companies, the concept of workplace safety also extends to company vehicles. Again, the rules in regards to the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace should be clearly defined and form the policy basis in reminding employees not to use e-cigarettes while at work.

When it comes to safety at construction sites, many companies have opted to ban e-cigarettes altogether – or designate certain areas for vaping.

Vape Policy Communication

It is very important to have a comprehensive health and safety policy that covers smoking, and vaping, along with other workplace safety issues. It is equally important to have an effective process to communicate the details of the policy. It is the responsibility of the employer to clearly define terms, and scope such as the vehicle example above. An important aspect of the policy is the compliance oversight activity the company conducts and disciplinary measures that may result.

young man vaping

Often safety polices are communicated to new employees as part of the initial on-boarding process. However, given the changing use and availability of e-cigarettes, reminders are a definite need. Communication in the form of regular reminders can be done as part of annual reviews as well as everyday communication.

Everyday communication can be in the form of posted signs in break rooms, bathrooms, hallways, vehicles and other areas where employees will see often. These are areas where employees pass by each day and serve as an effective reminder.

E-Cigarettes and Employee Health

It is in everyone’s best interest to have a healthy workforce. The communication or reminders on the use of e-cigarettes should emphasize the health and safety of everyone in the workplace. While e-cigarettes are generally considered safer than cigarettes, they are still considered harmful to the smoker and those nearby. The full health impact of e-cigarettes is still unknown and these heath aspects should be included in the policy communication.

To find out more about implementing health and safety programs in your workplace, contact us today.