The recently reported January 2022 accidental death of a Trulieve worker in Massachusetts is turning new attention to the plight of cannabis workers and the need for safety standards within the industry.
Trulieve identified the worker as Lorna McMurrey, 27, but declined to provide further details of the event.
According to an OSHA report noted in a LinkedIn post from Lezli Engelking, founder of the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), and since changed online, McMurrey died after inhaling kief, or the dried dust made from cannabis trichomes, at Trulieve’s facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
“The employee could not breathe and was killed, due to the hazards of ground cannabis dust,” read the online OSHA inspection report on October 5. However, by October 11, the details of the incident were no longer available on the online report.
According to Engelking’s post, McMurrey had an allergic reaction and complained she could not breathe.
“Situations like these are the reason I continue to beat the health and safety drum,” Engelking wrote, calling the death “totally preventable.”
“Proper ventilation, a validated Environmental Monitoring Program, a closely followed Sanitation and Hygiene Program, an effective Training Program, and proper PPE could have — and would have — prevented this,” she wrote.
According to a statement from Trulieve, personal protective equipment was available in the facility. The statement also notes that OSHA tested the air in the facility and everything was within “acceptable ranges.” OSHA did not cite Trulieve for any health or safety violations.
“Our hearts go out to Ms. McMurrey’s family, friends, and colleagues as the circumstances around her passing have recently resurfaced, resulting in their having to re-experience their loss,” Trulieve said in the statement.
— Brian Beckley