As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your workers, including having a system in place to ensure they are safe when working alone. This includes developing working alone policies and procedures and a system to check the well-being of workers at predetermined intervals.
Your obligations related to working alone and preventing workplace violence through proper training and safety protocols, are detailed in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, under section 4.20.1, Working Alone or in Isolation and section 4.27, Violence in the Workplace.
Prevention protocols for a safe workplace
Ensure your staff are trained on how to recognize and deal with potentially violent situations, including irate customers or those under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Work-environment arrangements and specific procedures to eliminate or minimize the risk of violence must be established, including:
- 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
- Good visibility in and out of the work area, which includes video surveillance, as well as controlled after-hours access to the premises
- Ensuring there are procedures in place to check on the well-being of your staff at scheduled intervals throughout their shifts
Additional tips to ensure the safety of your employees include:
- Keeping all outside areas well lit
- Designating a well-lit parking spot close to the building for those who work alone after hours
- Installing overhead mirrors so your staff can see all parts of their work area
- Posting signs that state the lack of cash or minimal cash on site
- Identifying areas where your staff can move to should they be at risk and to call for help
- Evaluate your procedures and discuss with staff
Include your staff when developing safety plans
When reviewing your safety and violence procedures, talk to your staff. They’re on the front lines and will often have new ideas on how to deal with specific situations based on their own experience.
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.
- Talk to your staff about potential sources of risk and any past incidents
- Create safety procedures for each risk or possible threat
- Practice the roles and procedures to reduce the threat of violence
- Measure results through feedback and modify as required