April 26, 2016 - 9:00 PM
LUMBY - The Mac’s Convenience Stores franchise and WorkSafe B.C. aren’t ignoring a violent incident in Lumby that involved a lone employee being held at knife-point.
Both the employer, and WorkSafe B.C. say they will look into the April 24 incident, when a female employee was forcibly confined and threatened with a knife during a robbery at Mac’s Convenience Store in Lumby just after 1 a.m.
The woman was working alone and police say the ordeal lasted approximately ten minutes. She was not physically injured but was left traumatized, police say.
WorkSafe B.C. spokesperson Scott McCloy says a prevention officer will be visiting the store and investigating what happened.
“We’re not presuming what the employer did or didn’t do, but when we read it through the media, our antenna is up,” McCloy says. “This worker was alone and that concerns us. That’s why we are sending an officer to determine, ‘was this employer in compliance? Do they have a proper compliance program in place? Are they doing an investigation?’ If not, we will be insisting they do one.”
Employers have three options when it comes to employees working alone or in isolation between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. at late night retail premises, such as gas stations or convenience stores. They can choose to separate the employee from the public with a locked door or barrier that prevents physical contact or they can schedule two or more people for the shift. Several years ago a third option was introduced which involves implementing a violence prevention program.
“It’s an onerous requirement,” McCloy says of the third option. “There’s a lot of hoops to go through to do it right.”
Employers must meet numerous requirements, including having a time lock safe that cannot be opened during late night hours, limiting the amount of cash and lottery tickets kept on the premises, monitoring the workplace by video surveillance, and providing workers with personal emergency transmitter devices.
“While it can’t prevent everything, we want to ensure… the employer is doing everything it can within the scope of the regulations to ensure workers are not subjected to violence,” McCloy says, adding no judgements are being made as to whether or not the employer was following the rules.
“People aren’t supposed to go to work and get hurt. That’s the bottom line for us and we hold employers accountable. We don’t know what happened here, but there is sufficient information to concern us and send an officer,” McCloy says.
The owner of Mac’s Convenience Store in Lumby declined to comment on the establishment’s policies, and referred us to the head office.
Doug Hartl, the manager of security for Mac’s Convenience Stores across Western Canada, says the store takes employee safety very seriously and is fully compliant with option three, the violence prevention program.
“You can’t plan for one-offs, but basically with the training and standards and everything else developed in conjunction with WorkSafe B.C., it’s 99.9 per cent. You can never be 100 per cent safe,” Hartl says.
He says any time there is an incident at one of the franchise’s stores, the company reviews it and reports it to WorkSafe B.C.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our employees, and then the customers,” Hartl says. “I can replace everything in the store; I can’t replace a person.”
Police continue to investigate the incident and are asking anyone with information about the robbery to contact the Lumby detachment at 250-547-2151, or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
The suspect is described as 5’6”, with a medium build. He was wearing a grey or light brown hoodie, blue or black pants, dark running shoes with a white line on the sole, a black mask covering his lower face, sunglasses and black and yellow mechanic’s gloves.
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