This article, written by Kristina Etter, was originally published on Cannabis Tech on February 19, 2020.
Although drying is a critical step in cannabis cultivation, the task, as well as the space necessary, is often underestimated. Improper cannabis drying space leads to reduced airflow and the opportunity for biological contaminants, such as molds and fungus, to grow. Unfortunately, many cultivators underestimate the space needed or outgrow their drying capacity as they increase cultivation to keep up with demand.
Increasing real estate is never easy, and other container-style drying solutions can be expensive and challenging to implement. Thus, many growers utilize overhead space to improve their drying capacity. However, this means that cultivation employees are frequently tasked with duties that require ladders, ultimately creating safety hazards and extra work for everyone.
US LABOR LAWS, OSHA, AND LADDER TRAINING
The U.S. Department of Labor website states, “[f]alls from portable ladders … are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.” Besides putting employees at risk, using ladders on the job means providing additional training for your staff.
According to federal law, any business, which requires the use of a ladder, must train their employees on how to properly use the equipment, including positioning, stability, electrical hazards, weight loads, and fall and impact procedures. These online classes can cost as much $79 per employee. Then, factor in the wages for the one-hour course, mandatory ladder training alone can cost producers between $1,500 to $2,000 annually.
REDUCING WORKER’S COMPENSATION EXPENSE
Based on the evidence presented by Jesse Parenti, Director and Partner at 9 Point Strategies, “[Worker’s Compensation] is the highest expense most companies have because it is based on payroll.” In fact, he estimates that worker’s comp accounts for 8-9% of salary expenses.
But, by automating simple tasks, such as changing the distance in growing light height, or raising and lowering harvested flower in your drying room can ultimately save growers another $2,000-$3,000 per year in annual workers comp expenses. Not to mention, automation reduces the amount of time it takes to perform menial tasks, so your employees can focus on more value-added tasks.
CANNABIS WORKER INJURY FREQUENCY
As with most insurance policies and risk mitigation work, some may want to think that their employees are superhuman and can always avoid mishaps. However, a study presented by Pinnacol, a Colorado worker’s comp insurer, paints a much more dismal outlook.
According to their infographic released last year, slips, trips, and falls were the third leading cause of accidents in the cannabis workplace and the most expensive injuries for employers to cover. Additionally, lower back and knee strains from lifting ranked high, coming at second for causes of injuries, as well as being second most expensive.
INCREASED CAPACITY, SAME FOOTPRINT
Using technology solutions, cultivators can eliminate the risks, reduce costs, and increase their drying capacity without expanding their footprint. With Lift & Grow’s cannabis drying solutions, producers can turn 100 square feet of floor space into 350 square feet of drying capacity.
With Lift & Grow’s innovative drying rack designs, growers can triple their drying capacity safely and efficiently. While each design accomplishes the same task, one simply uses netting to raise the hang-drying plats to the ceiling at the simple touch of a button. Similar in design to what many growers are using today to dry their plants, but without the need for any ladders to lift up the harvested crop, saving their employees from the risk of multiple injuries.
Another design by Lift & Grow provides workers with 4’ x 8’ beds, strung with food-grade cabling. This system allows the employee to raise or lower their workspace to fit their needs. Essentially the rack system brings the workspace to the worker, saving them time, as well as potential back strains or ergonomic injuries.
LIFT AND GROW PUTS AUTOMATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Regardless of the task, if you’re putting your employees on ladders, then you’re putting your employees at risk for a multitude of injuries. Ladders also mean you’re risking significant expenses in terms of labor, worker’s compensation insurance, potential injuries, and required training.
Watch this webcast with Lift & Grow to learn about their solutions and how they can help take your grow automation to the next level with lift systems designed for making cannabis grows efficient and safe.