Summary: A female crew member who’d reported breathing problems due to high levels of cannabis dust in her workplace ended up on life support in a hospital after she collapsed on the job.
The incident: When Lorna McMurrey of West Springfield, MA, started working at the Trulieve cannabis-processing facility in Holyoke, MA, she was excited to begin a career in the fast-growing marijuana industry.
However, McMurrey soon began to struggle with her breathing due to the high levels of finely ground cannabis dust in the plant. Even though she’d never previously had breathing problems, McMurrey was soon diagnosed with occupational asthma. She asked her stepfather, David Bruneau, to bring respirators from his workplace so she could use them at Trulieve.
“She said the air was full of dust,” said David Bruneau. “You could see it and it would stick to your skin.”
McMurrey’s breathing problems took a major turn for the worse while she was working the overnight shift one night. She texted her mother, Laura Bruneau, to say she was having trouble breathing and walking.
Shortly after sending the text to her mom, McMurrey lost consciousness.
The response: Laura Bruneau arrived at the Trulieve facility just in time to see her daughter being put in an ambulance.
McMurrey, 27, was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support, but she died four days later from cardiac and respiratory arrest caused by a severe asthma attack.
The aftermath: “I sat there holding her hand four days on that machine just hoping that she’d come back,” said Laura Bruneau. “I miss her so much. I never want anyone to go through what I had to go through.”
(From the Oct. 31, 2022, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)