July 20, 2006

WorksafeBC announces preliminary results from gas station initiative

Richmond, British Columbia – WorksafeBC has found significant levels of non-compliance with safety regulations in late-night gas bars across the province, after safety officers conducted 366 inspections over a three-month period. The special random inspections were part of WorkSafeBC’s response to the death of a gas station attendant in 2005, and a growing concern about workers alone late at night.

“Results so far have reinforced the importance of educating employers and workers in this industry,” says Betty Pirs, executive director of Prevention Services for WorkSafeBC. “It is clear that these employers do not have a complete understanding of their legal responsibilities to protect workers who are working alone and/or may be susceptible to acts of violence in their workplace.”

Most of the sites inspected fell short on site-specific procedures needed to address unique situations at the work location, and instead found employers relying solely on generic policy and procedures supplied by the oil company head offices. The inspections also found that very little, if any documentation existed to demonstrate that worker instruction, orientation and supervision had been satisfactorily performed to meet the standards and requirements of occupational health and safety regulations.

WorkSafeBC officers are working with employers to increase their understanding and awareness of their responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and the Workers Compensation Act, and to develop appropriate site-specific procedures. While the gas station inspection initiative is an important response, WorkSafeBC notes that gas bars are not typically high-risk workplaces; since 1982 there have been two acts of violence, both resulting from criminal injury, leading to deaths in gas stations. However, last year’s death of a young worker has been a wake-up call for all employers to ensure that appropriate procedures, training and safety measures are in place to protect workers who work alone, or are at risk of violence in the workplace. For more information, visit www.worksafebc.com.

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