Compared to most other workers, retail workers are especially at risk of physical injury or emotional stress from workplace violence. WorkSafeBC's Occupational Health and Safety Regulation defines violence to include both actual and attempted assaults as well as threatening statements or behaviour. In B.C., robberies account for most of the violent incidents that retail workers experience. Most of these involve handguns and knives. Workers at convenience stores and gas bars are especially at risk of injury from violence.
Safe work practices:
- Conduct a risk assessment if your workplace presents a risk of injury from violence. Include and review the following in the risk assessment:
- past incidents of violence over a period of at least one year
- history of violent incidents at similar stores in your area
- your industry's statistics and solutions for violent incidents
- areas where violent incidents may occur—for example, checkout counters and back doors
- controls already in place for violence prevention—for example, store layout and lighting, cash register location, overhead mirrors and security cameras, and personal panic alarms as well as door and counter alarms
- input from all staff members, including their concerns and suggested solutions
- Eliminate the risk of injury from violence. If elimination isn't possible, minimize the risk through procedures, policies, and work environment arrangements.
- Provide safe work procedures to eliminate or minimize the risk of injury to workers from violence. Include instructions for procedures such as—
- opening and closing the store
- handling cash
- responding to a violent incident—for example, a robbery or assault
- Train workers and supervisors in violence prevention and how to respond to violent incidents. Keep records of the training.
- Instruct staff to report and document all violent incidents.
- Implement a written procedure for checking the well-being of employees assigned to work alone or in isolation. Provide a means of effective emergency communication for employees working alone.
Sections 4.27-4.31 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation cover the requirements for dealing with workplace violence. Sections 4.20.1-4.23 cover the requirements for working alone or in isolation.
WorkSafeBC has a wide range of health and safety information. For assistance and information on workplace health and safety, call toll-free within BC 1-888-621-SAFE (7233) or visit our web site at WorkSafeBC.com.