Thursday, December 13, 2012

Late Night Retail Safety

There's a new trend in workplace health and safety regulation relating to late night retail services, such as 24-hour convenience stores and gas stations.  Saskatchewan has such a law coming into effect next month, prompted by the shooting death of a gas station attendant last year; British Columbia enacted a similar law in 2008.

The new Saskatchewan law deals with any place of employment open to the public between 11:00pm and 6:00am for the purpose of making retail sales to customers, requiring them to conduct workplace hazard assessments, to be updated and revised at least every three years and whenever there is a change of circumstances that might affect health and safety.

As well, such employers need to develop safe cash handling procedures to minimize the amount of cash readily accessible to workers, use video cameras to capture "key areas" of the workplace including cash registers and outdoor gas pumps, establish good visibility in the workplace, and place signs indicating the limited availability of cash and the use of video cameras.

For employees working alone, additional measures are needed:  Implementation of a check-in procedure for that worker, and provision of a personal emergency transmitter.

Prior to prorogation, an Ontario Liberal MPP introduced a private member's bill to compel gas stations to require payment prior to pumping.  (This may be practically necessary, sadly, but I'm not sure it should be legislated.  The real concern isn't theft - if that's a sufficient problem, then gas stations can be expected to implement the measure on their own, without the need for legislative intervention.  The real concern is that, every so often, a gas station attendant gets seriously injured or killed trying to stop such theft.  In my view, requiring policies and procedures clearly prohibiting attendants from trying to stop a gas-and-dash would be sufficient...and arguably, such policies and procedures are already required.)

Following Bill 168, Ontario already requires employers to implement violence policies and procedures and to carry out workplace violence hazard assessments, which would have significant overlap with the new Saskatchewan law.  Employers are further obligated to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.  The specifics of that obligation could be argued about (by contrast to the Saskatchewan requirements, which set out relatively specific obligations) - this is a double-edged sword.  Ontario's general 'reasonableness' approach creates uncertainty about the obligations of employers, yet Saskatchewan's more specific approach may have the impact of requiring some employers to carry out steps which are patently unnecessary and unproductive in the context of the workplace, or conversely of failing to require safety measures which seem obviously reasonable in certain contexts.


This blog is not intended to and does not provide legal advice to any person in respect of any particular legal issue, and does not create a solicitor-client relationship with any readers, but rather provides general legal information. If you have a legal issue or possible legal issue, contact a lawyer.

1 comment:

  1. Work place safety doesn't stop after the traditional work day, and it is good to see that governments are recognizing this and are taking steps to enact laws and regulations to protect those who work the night shift. Whether an employee is on the job working at a 24/7 convenience store or working third shift at a manufacturing plant - safety procedures and emergency information need to be readily available when managers are not available. Having this information and training available to all staff if a good step in the right direction.