EDMONTON – Alberta is taking steps to put in place added protections for workers at gas stations and convenience stores. In the past three years, in Alberta there have been five deaths and three other workers were seriously injured as a result of “gas-and-dash” incidents across the province.
Under the proposed legislation, An Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers, the Occupational Health and Safety Code would be amended to include mandatory pre-payment for fuel. Violence-prevention plans would also become mandatory at retail fuel and convenience stores.
“As Albertans, our hearts break when we see incidents of violence involving workers. That’s why we are taking action to increase safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers by introducing mandatory violence-prevention plans and pre-payment options for fuel. This legislation would better protect workers and prevent violent incidents from happening in Alberta,” said Christina Gray, Minister of Labour.
If passed, the new measures are expected to go into effect June 1, 2018. Where pay-at-the-pump technology is not available, retailers can institute other options such as requiring customers to deposit cash or a credit card with the cashier before fueling begins. Several fuel retailers in Alberta have already established, or are working to establish mandatory fuel pre-payment policies.
“Pre-payment eliminates the risks associated with fuel payments, and we applaud the government for taking this important step to protect attendants and the public. We believe this is the right thing to do – and so do the people working at our stations,” states Lawrence Richler, vice-president, Canadian Products Marketing, Husky Energy Inc.
“A safe store environment is paramount to 7-Eleven Canada and we believe pre-payment of fuel purchases will improve employee and public safety in Alberta. For many years, 7-Eleven Canada has run an employee safety program similar to the safety plan announced today. It stems from our commitment to our employees and the communities we serve,” comments Doug Rosencrans, vice-president and general manager, 7-Eleven Canada.
Fuel theft and violent incidents at gas stations and convenience stores are a significant concern for law enforcement. The rates of fuel theft incidents reported to police in Alberta rose between 2011 and 2015. The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police estimates there were over 4,000 incidents across the province in 2015, an average of 12 fuel thefts per day.
“In addition to the highest priority of saving human lives and reducing trauma, mandatory pre-payment for fuel will save Alberta’s police services hundreds of hours spent responding to and investigating gasoline thefts – hours that would be put towards high-priority public safety issues,” states Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police.
Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation require employers to take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workers. Violence-prevention plans help employers reduce the potential for violence through a combination of physical and procedural control measures.
Proposed violence-prevention plan requirements
- Safe cash-handling procedures and a minimal amount of cash available to workers.
- Video monitoring and good visibility within and outside premises.
- Where the retail space is open to the public between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.:
- Time-lock safes that can’t be opened during those hours.
- Limited quantities of certain items such as cash, lottery tickets and tobacco available during those hours.
- Visible signs indicating to the public that the retailer uses time-lock safes, and has video monitoring and carries limited quantities of certain items.
- Personal emergency transmitters for employees working alone.
- Worker training in all aspects of the violence-prevention plan.
The proposed legislation follows stakeholder discussion sessions and inspections by OHS officers conducted in 2016 and 2017. To learn more, visit alberta.ca/gas-station-worker-safety.