Alberta’s labour ministry says Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers have launched their three-month inspection of stand-alone convenience stores and gas stations with convenience stores attached.
According to government officials, the December shooting deaths of two Mac’s employees – both working alone in separate Edmonton stores – along with other violent convenience store robberies, prompted the audit.
READ MORE: ‘Unnecessary, gratuitous, evil’: 2 clerks shot to death in Edmonton robberies
“Health and safety on the job is paramount,” Minister of Labour Christina Gray said in a new release Tuesday. “Employers are responsible to take all precautions to ensure their workers are safe, treated fairly and go home to their families at the end of the day, no matter what industry they work in.”
The Alberta government says OHS officers will be speaking with workers and employers about current employment standards on issues like working alone, workplace violence and hiring young workers.
The inspections will see officers visit about 200 workplaces across Alberta and the officers are armed with the power to issue stop use or stop work orders on site if deemed necessary. Officers are being asked to refer any suspected employment standards issues to the ministry for follow up.
“Alberta retailers operate in a challenging environment and their safety and that of the public is paramount to our industry,” Andrew Klukas, president of the Western Convenience Stores Association, said. “The Western Convenience Stores Association continues to work with the Alberta government to ensure evidence-based safety measures proven to work in our unique retail environment are in place and accessible to all retailers.”
In the wake of the December killings, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley issued the following statement on Dec. 18:
“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.”
READ MORE: Alberta labour group calls for better safety for night workers following deadly shootings
The Alberta Federation of Labour has been calling on the Notley government to bring in a law forcing all-night retail employers to have more than one person on shift at night.
The government says the results of the inspections will help determine the next steps in its review of OHS and Employment Standards legislation.