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New OHS rules to protect B.C.’s lone, late-night workers

By COS staff
| www.cos-mag.com

Improving the safety of employees working alone or inisolation was the focus of recent amendments to British Columbia’s OccupationalHealth and Safety Regulation, which came into effect this February.

The new changes to the regulation include mandatorypre-payment of fuel at all gas stations across the province, in a bid to reducegas station employees’ exposure to safety risks, according to a statement fromWorkSafeBC, which led a series of multi-party consultations and public hearingsacross B.C. between 2006 and 2007.

  

“We heard very strongly from stakeholders during theconsultation process that they wanted these regulations to apply 24 hours aday, seven days a week, and the amendments reflect that,” said Roberta Ellis,vice-president of policy, investigations and review at WorkSafeBC.

The amendments to the OHS Regulation were designed to helpprotect people working on late-night shifts, particularly in retailenvironments such as gas stations, convenience stores and other outlets thatare open to the public between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to WorkSafeBC.Employers with workers who work alone or in isolation and are at risk of harmor violence at work, are required to develop and implement written proceduresfor safe money handling of employees. Workers must be trained on theseprocedures, as well.

In addition, employers are required to install a physicalbarrier or lock between the workers and customers, or have at least two workersworking during late-night shifts, the amendments indicated.

Examples of occupations falling under the “working alone orin isolation” category includes convenience store employees, taxi drivers,truck and delivery drivers, home care and social services workers, by-lawofficers and security guards, forestry workers who are “doing high-hazard workwith no regular interaction with other people, warehouse workers in cold roomsor freezers, night cleaners and custodians in private and public building, andnight-shift employees.

Employers of these types of workers must identify and informtheir workers about hazards in the workplace, under the new requirements. Theyare also required to: eliminate or minimize these hazards by using engineeringor administrative controls; develop and implement a written procedure forchecking the well-being of workers, also called a person-check procedure; trainworkers on the person-check procedure; and review written procedures at leastonce a year, or more frequently in case of changes in work arrangements or ifthe procedures are ineffective.

The new requirements under the OHS Regulation, also called“Grant’s Law,” was a result of WorkSafeBC’s probe into the death of GrantDePatie, a gas station attendant who was killed in 2005 while trying to preventa gas theft. 

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