Cannabis Company Probed for Holyoke Worker Death Reaches Settlement With OSHA

Lorna McMurrey died nearly a year ago after collapsing on the job at Trulieve's Holyoke facility

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A settlement has been reached between OSHA and the cannabis company that employed the woman who died after having trouble breathing and collapsing on the job in Holyoke, Massachusetts earlier this year.

Trulieve announced the settlement a few days before Christmas, saying that the agreement will "result in additional health and safety protections for Trulieve workers at its cannabis manufacturing facilities," according to a news release from the corporation.

Per the agreement, the cannabis company will do a study on whether ground cannabis dust needs to be categorized as a "hazardous chemical" in a work setting, according to regulations by OSHA. That study is expected to wrap up in May of 2023, the release said.

A tragic death inside a state-licensed marijuana facility is being called the first of its kind in the industry.

With the outcome of the study in mind, the company announced it will develop a "temporary information and training program that alerts employees to potential allergic reactions they might experience working with ground cannabis dust in an occupational setting." The program would include information on what workers should do if they feel like they're having an allergic reaction. Trulieve said in its announcement that it is already working on that project.

Trulieve said it will "evaluate a series of actions that may include:

  • Engaging a health professional to develop a program that gives workers guidance on how to manage potential health impacts resulting from potential reactions to ground cannabis dust.
  • Making employees more aware of job transfer options, if available.
  • Making permanent the temporary information and training program.
  • Investigating options to better limit access and exposure to the areas where commercial grinding of cannabis occurs.
  • Establishing policies that increase the presence of workers available who are trained in first aid."

"We're pleased to have entered into this agreement with OSHA," CEO of Trulieve Kim Rivers wrote in the news release. "We are proud of the many protections we have already put in place for our workers. However, as an industry leader in what is still a relatively new manufacturing business, we want to continue to establish best practices, so our workers can have the health and safety assurances they need."

The university in Worcester, Massachusetts, is partnering with cannabis education company, Green Flower, to offer four cannabis qualification certificates for those interested in pursuing a career in the growing industry.

The $35,219 fine originally filed against Trulieve has been reduced to $14,502. Two of the "serious" items in the citation were withdrawn, the company said, but one was replaced with another citation.

Previous reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show investigators found Lorna McMurrey died from occupational asthma due to exposure to ground cannabis at the company's Holyoke, Massachusetts facility, and that workers at Trulieve weren't provided enough information and training on the hazards involved in the production and grinding process.

Trulieve was contesting OSHA's findings. A spokesperson for the company told NBC10 Boston that PPE was available onsite to all employees, and that air quality tested throughout the facility during the OSHA inspection tested at well below acceptable ranges.

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