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Keep Your Lone Workers Safe

Recently, a lone hotel employee in Saanich, B.C. had the terrifying experience of being bound and restrained by two masked assailants, who then managed to leave with a large sum of money from the hotel. It was a hotel guest who heard his cries and managed to free him.  

Despite newer regulations such as “Grant’s Law,” following the tragic death of gas-station employee Grant De Patie in 2005, and other updates to provincial regulations for lone workers, incidents like this do still happen.

Prevention protocols for a safe workplace

Employers are required, by law, to ensure a safe workplace for their staff and to provide proper training on safety protocols. Work-environment arrangements and specific procedures to eliminate or minimize the risk of violence must be established. Provisions for handling money, such as limiting the amount of funds on the premises at night and a time-lock safe, are required in some circumstances. 

There should also be good visibility in and out of the work area, which includes video surveillance, as well as controlled after-hours access to the premises. In addition, employers need to ensure there are procedures in place to check on the well-being of their staff at scheduled intervals throughout their shifts.  

Additional tips to ensure the safety of your employees include:

Employers are required to evaluate and assess the risk of violence in their workplace. That assessment must consider the specific environment or similar workplaces, as well as the location and circumstances in which the work will take place.

The first thing to do is review the procedures already in place for your work-alone staff. The most common positions in the tourism and hospitality industry that tend to work in isolation and therefore are susceptible to workplace violence are:

When reviewing your safety and violence procedures, talk to your staff. They’re on the front line and will often have new ideas on how to deal with specific situations based on their own experience. As an employer, it’s important to understand the types of scenarios each worker may encounter to make you better able to perform a comprehensive risk assessment and create hazard-prevention training to suit each of your employee’s needs.

Ensure your staff are trained on how to recognize and deal with potentially violent situations. Your staff need to know how to handle all types of situations, including irate customers or those under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  

It’s the responsibility of the employer to establish clear policies, procedures and work-environment arrangements to eliminate, or if that is not possible, minimize the risk to workers from potentially violent incidents.

On top of reviewing WorkSafeBC guidelines:

To find resources to help you get you started on your assessment and implement violence-prevention procedures, visit worksafebc.com

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