EDMONTON – The province said Friday it will review the rules governing employees working alone after two deadly shootings at convenience stores overnight in Edmonton.
The Alberta Federation of Labour is calling on the government to make it law that all-night retail employers have more than one person on duty at night.
‘Unnecessary, gratuitous, evil’: 2 clerks shot to death in Edmonton robberies
“We know from experience that workers working in the middle of the night are at dramatically greater risk of violence,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “Because we know this, government has a responsibility to act.”
“When you’re working alone at a retail operation in the middle of the night, you can be a target. And education alone isn’t enough to mitigate that risk.”
The AFL said the deaths of two workers in south Edmonton early Friday morning are a “grim reminder that workers working retail in the middle of the night face greater risks of violence.”
READ MORE: Violent night in Edmonton; 2 clerks killed in armed robberies
The AFL said at least one of the workers was working alone.
The federation wants to see Alberta adopt regulations like British Columbia, where there must be more than one person working on all-night retail shifts. If the employer insists on having just one staff member on duty, that person must work in a locked area behind a secure area.
“We already have some rules on the book about employers needing to check in with night-shift workers on a regular basis, but there should be an investigation into whether or not those rules are being followed,” McGowan said.
“There needs to be a system of spot checks to make sure that workers are safer.”
The AFL also wants to see the province make it mandatory for late-night retailers to provide their employees with training about how to deal with robberies and gas-and-dash situations.
READ MORE: Criminal charges pending in fatal gas station hit-and-run
The federation says the training must emphasize any money lost from robberies will not be deducted from an employee’s pay cheque.
The AFL sent a letter to the Alberta labour minister Friday requesting a meeting to talk about changes it thinks would better protect late-night workers and those who work alone.
Global News reached out to the Minister Lori Sigurdson for comment but had not heard back as of 2 p.m. Friday.
Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley issued the following statement Friday afternoon:
“These incidents are both tragic and disturbing. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. Our government believes every worker should come home safe at the end of the day, regardless of when they work or what work they do. We will be reviewing the rules that govern employees working alone and would welcome input from stakeholders. We want to ensure safety is top of mind in all Alberta workplaces.”
One in four employed Canadians do shift work and one in five is engaged in shift work involving work at night. According to Statistics Canada, the jobs that require the most shift work include police, security, accommodation and food industries, and health-related occupations.
Alberta’s current regulations require employees working alone have an effective communication system and be contacted regularly by their employer or designate.
The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code requires employers to:
– Identify existing or potential safety hazards associated with working alone;
– Put safety measures in place to reduce those risks on their workers;
– Ensure workers have an effective way to communicate with their employer, immediate supervisor; and
– Keep in regular contact with the workers as necessary.
Part 28 of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code requires an employer to provide effective radio, telephone or other electronic communication between a worker who works alone and a person capable of assisting in an emergency, plus regular contact by the employer at a frequency based on the hazard assessment.
Part 37 of the OHS Code requires an employer to develop a policy and procedures respecting potential workplace violence. In addition, there are specific requirements related to worker training and responses to violence incidents.
Working Alone- Alberta