To the Editor,
Re: Sit-in part of campaign to restore Grant’s Law, April 11.
I am writing to correct misinformation which makes several false claims about Grant’s Law and Mac’s Convenience Stores’ response to it.
Grant’s Law is a WorkSafe B.C. regulation that was named in honour of Grant DePatie, a young gas station attendant killed on the job when he left the building during a drive-off theft. The law requires mandatory prepayment of fuel in B.C., eliminating the possibility of drive-off thefts and associated risks to employees.
As the DePatie incident happened during late night hours, WorkSafe B.C. added another requirement that included measures extending to all late-night retail employers, including convenience stores with or without attached gas stations.
Stores choosing to stay open late were required to either have two workers during late night hours or to physically separate a lone worker from the public with a barrier.
To many it may seem intuitively that this is the right thing to do. It is not. Using a barrier or having two employees present would not have prevented the horrifying death of DePatie.
And inside a retail store, these measures will actually increase the risk of harm in situations involving robbery and potential violence, not only to employees but also to customers.
Between 2008 and 2011, the retail industry and WorkSafe B.C. developed and installed various barrier designs inside Mac’s stores to assess their impact. The evaluation, performed by Deloitte Canada, confirmed that barriers would focus aggression at store property or the employee(s).
Store designs that tell visitors they are dangerous do not elicit friendly behaviour, and increase the likelihood unfriendly visitors will show aggression.
The argument for requiring two staff is that employees working alone are “sitting ducks” to violent attacks. However, as pointed out by Rosemary Erickson in her study Two Clerks, if someone enters a store with the willingness or intent to inflict harm, having two workers present only doubles the risk.
The secret to personal security is to eliminate the intent to cause harm.
In December 2011 WorkSafe B.C. included these measures in its late night retail regulation. All late night retailers are now required to install a barrier, employ two staff and/or establish a comprehensive violence prevention program that includes: using a time-lock safe that can’t be opened during late-night hours; storing excess cash and lottery tickets in the time-lock safe; posting signs advising the safe can’t be opened, there is limited cash and lottery tickets on the premises and the area is being monitored by video surveillance; ensuring good visibility inside and outside of the store; limiting access to the inside of the store; monitoring the business with video surveillance; and providing staff with monitored personal emergency transmitters
The 2008 late-night retail regulation lacked any requirement to implement proven measures such as these. The late-night retail regulation is an improved package of measures that protects staff both day and night, not just after 11 p.m. – just like mandatory prepayment of fuel.
To ensure these measures are working effectively, late-night retailers will also have to pass periodic security audits by independent auditors.
Mac’s Convenience Stores will continue to implement any and all practices that contribute to the safety of employees and the public.
Mac’s Convenience Stores