A Sobering Challenge


February 1, 2013

“Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable,” Franz Kafka.


by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief



The words of the German writer neatly sum up my advice to operators in both Colorado and Washington, where successful 2012 ballot initiatives legalized marijuana possession and created an unnecessary challenge to ensuring worker safety. For an industry that prizes the safety of its workers, the idea of employees arriving to work under the influence of marijuana is unacceptable. Zero tolerance policies and random drug screenings have long played an important role in worker safety and should continue to do so — not just for an individual worker’s safety, but for that of others as well.

Kafka wrote extensively about quarry safety throughout his career. Management guru Peter Drucker even credited him with developing the first civilian hard hat during his tenure at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute. In “Franz Kafka: The Office Writings,” he described a quarry where workers wouldn’t even report for work if they were not first promised their quota of brandy. Apparently, the quarry owner also owned a nearby inn. “Every day, the foreman would, as one of his most important tasks, bring large jugs of brandy from the inn to the quarry and distribute them to workers, keeping records of their consumption,” he wrote. The cost of the alcohol was later withdrawn from the worker’s wages, with deductions running as high as 30 percent of the overall earnings. “In effect, the workforce of this quarry was made up largely of men who were, to a greater or lesser extent, drunk,” he noted.

A workforce operating under the influence of marijuana makes about as much sense as the intoxicated workforce described by Kafka, which is to say that it makes no sense at all. In today’s litigious environment, however, operators must now make sure they take steps to ensure that they stay on the right side of this legal issue.

To help readers navigate the legal complexities of these initiatives, Jackson Kelly PLLC’s Robin Repass offers guidance on what policy updates can be made to protect both companies and other workers. See page 34 for guidance. And remember, start with what is right, not what is acceptable.


3 Things I Learned from this Issue


1. Calcium carbonate used in animal feed offers a market opportunity with steady demand, page 4.


2. Higher dredge pump speeds (against a baseline speed) may

indicate a worn impeller, page 15.


3. Spherical, crush-resistant silica sand is most suitable for frac sand production, page 19.








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