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Who do I call if I have questions?
You can call our toll-free information line at 1-888-621-SAFE and ask for the local regional office.
What are the requirements for working alone or in isolation?
The amendments to Part 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the Regulation) came into effect on April 15, 2012. There are three sets of requirements.
Working alone or in isolation: The first set of requirements applies to all employers. Employers must identify, eliminate and control hazards before a worker is assigned to work alone or in isolation. Employers must also develop and implement a procedure for checking the well-being of any worker assigned to work alone or in isolation.
Late night retail premises: The second set of requirements applies only to employers who have workers working alone or in isolation in a late night retail premises. In these cases, the employer needs written procedures for handling money and workers have to be trained in these procedures. Additionally, the employer must either ensure the worker is physically separated from the public by a locked door or other barrier, have two or more workers assigned to work between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., or implement a violence prevention program.
Prepayment for fuel: The third requirement provides that employers must have a prepay system for all motor vehicle fuel sold in gas stations and other refueling outlets. This requirement applies to all gas stations or other fueling outlets, with the exception of marine fueling stations.
Refer to bottom of page to view guidelines.
Working alone or in isolation
What does it mean to be working alone or in isolation?
To work alone or in isolation means to be working when there is no one to provide assistance that is "readily available" in case of an emergency, injury, or illness.
Do these regulations apply where a number of workers are working together in a remote place?
No. The regulations only apply where there is one worker. But there are other safety regulations that already protect workers in isolated or remote areas.
How do I know if my worker has assistance that is readily available?
You need to consider the following four questions:
- Are other people around who could help my worker?
- Are these other people going to know my worker needs help?
- Will these other people be willing to provide help?
- Will these other people be able to help in a timely manner?
What if I can't decide whether my business meets the requirements?
Please contact our toll-free information line at 1-888-621-SAFE and ask for the local regional office for help with any questions you may have.
Do customers inside my store count as assistance that is readily available?
Generally, no. In the vast majority of retail outlets, there will be periods of time when there are no other people present, even for a few minutes.
Is a worker selling items at a large sports game or busy mall working alone or in isolation?
No. Where there are many people present or there is a constant flow of people or customers, a worker is not working alone as it is defined above.
Can workers from different employers provide each other with assistance?
Yes. If two or more workers of different employers are working together and each worker is capable of and willing to provide helpful assistance in a timely manner, then this qualifies as assistance that is readily available. For example, this may be the case where a coffee/donut retailer is in same premises as a fuel vendor. Employers must ensure that the workers are capable of and willing to provide assistance and that the workers are aware of this arrangement.
If a worker is supplied with an electronic means of communication, such as a phone, radio, or personal alarm, does this qualify as assistance that is readily available to the worker?
No. If the worker cannot be seen or heard by persons capable of offering and willing to offer assistance in a timely manner, then he or she is working alone or in isolation. Electronic means of communication may be one way to control hazards identified for a worker working alone or in isolation, but they do not remove the employer's obligation to meet the other working alone or in isolation requirements. For example, a home care or social worker, working alone and who is dispatched to situations where there is risk of violence, may be provided a communication device as part of the hazard identification and control process. A communication device may be one way to reduce hazards of working alone or in isolation; however, the worker is still considered to be working alone or in isolation.
Who do the working alone or in isolation requirements apply to?
The requirements are intended to safeguard workers, as defined in the Workers Compensation Act, who are working alone or in isolation. Generally, that means a person that is in an employment relationship. In addition, the working alone or in isolation requirements only apply when the worker is working in circumstances that assistance would not be readily available in the event of an emergency, injury or illness.
What are some examples of workers who may be working alone or in isolation?
Common situations and occupations where a worker may be working alone or in isolation include:
- A worker at a convenience store, retail outlet employee, a parking attendant, and a taxi driver;
- A worker who meets clients out of the office, such as a home care worker or a social service worker;
- A worker who does work with no regular interaction with other people such as a forestry worker, a boom boat operator, a worker in the freezer area of a cold storage facility, or a night cleaner in a plant;
- A worker who is isolated from other workers or public view such as a security guard, a custodian, or a night shift worker in a community care or outpatient department.
The provisions say that identified hazards that cannot be eliminated should be reduced using engineering controls. What is an engineering control?
"Engineering controls" are defined in the Regulation as the physical arrangement, design or alteration of workstations, equipment, materials, production facilities or other aspects of the physical work environment, for the purpose of controlling risk. Examples of engineering controls include installing physical arrangements in the workplace to separate a worker from customers and the public by locked doors, pay windows, protective barriers that are substantial enough to prevent access to the worker.
The provisions say that identified hazards that cannot be eliminated or reduced using engineering controls, should be reduced using administrative controls. What is an administrative control?
"Administrative controls" are defined in the Regulation as the provision, use and scheduling of work activities and resources in the workplace, including planning, organizing, staffing and coordinating, for the purpose of controlling risk. Examples of administrative controls include rearranging the work so that more than one person is always present in the workplace or prohibiting high risk work activities during times when a worker is working alone.
What is a procedure to check the well-being of a worker?
A procedure to check the well-being of a worker is a written procedure specifying at what intervals a designated person will establish contact with the worker to determine their well-being, and the procedure that will be followed in the event the worker cannot be contacted. The person assigned to establish contact with the worker must document the results at each interval. The intervals between checks should be based on the risk of the worker's work activities, with more hazardous activities requiring shorter intervals between checks. The procedure must be developed in consultation with the joint committee or worker health and safety representative, as applicable. The worker assigned to work alone or in isolation must also be consulted about the intervals between checks that will be used.
How do I know if I'm an employer?
Generally, an employer is person or entity (such as a company) who pays a worker to do a job. An employer may also be someone who, even though he or she works for themselves, decides to buy Personal Option Protection (POP) from WorkSafeBC.
What if I have no workers except for my spouse and family members?
If you run your own business by yourself or with your spouse only, and your business is not incorporated, then you are not an employer within the meaning of the Workers Compensation Act. As such, you are not required to comply with these regulations if you decide not to. However, if you have family members who are paid to work, they are workers, no matter what their age, and you are considered their employer.
Late Night Retail Stores
Why are there specific requirements for late night retail?
Workers who work alone in a late night retail environment could face an increased risk of confrontation or even violence. That's why the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation has specific requirements for such workplaces. New amendments to these requirements take effect April 15, 2012.
How do the amendments affect employers?
The amendments include new requirements specifically covering night shifts at late night retail premises. These new requirements are in addition to requirements under the "Working Alone" and "Violence in the Workplace" sections of the Regulation that retail employers (like other employers) have to meet. For more information, refer to the resources section at the end of this guide.
Depending on your situation, you may need to identify potential hazards in your workplace and develop procedures to ensure that your workers remain safe on the job. This guide describes what you need to do to meet the legal requirements specified in section 4.22.1 of the Regulation.
To determine whether your workplace is considered late night retail premises for the purposes of section 4.22.1, consider the following questions:
- Is the workplace a convenience store, fast-food restaurant, bar, gas station or other retail fuelling outlet, or other establishment where goods are sold directly to consumers?
- Is the workplace open to the public anytime between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.?
- Are you intending to have a worker on the premises during those times?
If you answered "yes" to all three questions, then you must choose one or more of the following options:
OPTION 1: Assign two or more workers to work the late night retail hours.
If only one worker is assigned to work those hours, choose one or both of the following two options:
OPTION 2: Physically separate the worker from the public by a locked door or barrier during late night retail hours.
OPTION 3: Implement a violence prevention program containing the elements described below.
A violence prevention program for late night retail premises must include the following controls (see section 4.22.1(2.1) of the Regulation):
- A time lock safe on the premises that cannot be opened during late night hours (cash and lottery tickets that are not reasonably required in order to operate during late night hours must be stored in this safe)
- Good visibility into and out of the premises
- Limited access to the inside of the premises (generally through one entrance only)
- Video surveillance of the premises
- Signs on the premises indicating that:
- The safe is a time lock safe that cannot be opened during late night hours
- There is a limited amount of accessible cash and lottery tickets on the premises
- The premises are monitored by video surveillance
In addition, workers assigned to work late night hours under Option 3 must be at least 19 years of age and must be provided with personal emergency transmitters. The transmitters must be monitored by the employer, a security company, or another person designated by the employer. As the employer, you will need to develop procedures to respond quickly if a personal emergency transmitter is activated.
By the end of the first year after the violence prevention program is first implemented, and every two years thereafter, you must obtain a written security audit report from an independent qualified person confirming that the program meets all the requirements under section 4.22.1(2.1). If you have more than one late night retail location, an audit must be done for each location. Post each written security audit report in the workplace as soon as you receive it, and keep it posted until you receive the next report.
Prepayment for Fuel
Do I need to install new pumps? Do I need to have pay-at-the-pump?
No. There are a number of ways for customers to pre-pay that do not need changes to pumps. For example, customers could pre-authorize a certain amount of fuel on their credit or debit card, or leave a credit card or cash deposit before fuelling.
How will customers paying by credit card know how much to pay the attendant? Will attendants need to refund customers who overpay?
If customers are paying by credit card, the customers can give the credit card to an attendant or store clerk before fueling their vehicle. The actual purchase can then be charged to the credit card after fueling has occurred. The attendant or store clerk should know the exact amount to charge to the card and a refund transaction will not be needed.
How can customers prepay for fuel if they normally charge fuel to an account?
Customers can still charge the fuel to their account. The customer will have to inform the attendant that he or she wants the fuel charged to his or her account before the fuel is pumped rather than after.
Does the prepayment requirement apply where there's a full service gas station?
Yes. The prepayment requirement applies to both self serve and full service stations.
Does the requirement that customers prepay for fuel only apply between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.?
No. The prepayment requirement applies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The requirements apply no matter how many workers are working.
Does the prepayment requirement only apply in cities?
No. The prepayment requirement applies throughout British Columbia.
Do loyal customers, friends and family members have to pre-pay in smaller communities?
In small communities, various administrative processes can facilitate compliance. One option in small communities, in which most of the customers tend to be well known to the operator, is for the customer and the retailer to make advance arrangements for payment of an account. WorkSafeBC considers that a pre-arranged payment agreement for fuel is a form of standing account that satisfies the obligation for prepayment, and in these circumstances the customer can purchase fuel at the pump in accordance with the payment plan.
Do my customers need to pre-pay for barbeque propane, or marine fuel for boats?
No. They only need to pre-pay for fuel, of any kind, being pumped into a motor vehicle.
Guidelines in reference to Frequently Asked Questions for Requirements - OHS Regulation Part 4: Working Alone or in Isolation
G4.20.1 Definition of working alone or in isolation
G4.20.2 Hazard identification, elimination, and control
G4.21 Procedures for checking the well-being of workers
G4.22.1-1 Late night retail - Definitions and money handling procedures
G4.22.1-2 Late night retail - Second worker or barrier
G4.22.1-3 Late night retail - Violence Prevention Program
G4.22.2-1 Mandatory prepayment for fuel
G4.22.2-2 Alternative methods for fuel prepayment outside of urban centres
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