Protecting store clerks from robbers is a two-way street

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
February 12, 2019 - 5:00am
Image Credit: CFJC Today

BUSINESSMAN DENIS WALSH — as opposed to Coun. Denis Walsh — hasn’t had a good couple of weeks.

First, his Movie Mart store was robbed. Then it was robbed again. Then WorksafeBC inspected it — and nailed Walsh with eight violations.

One of WorksafeBC’s responsibilities is keeping employees safe from robberies and such, and there are a host of rules around that. When there was a rash of violence against graveyard-shift gas-station employees a few years ago, for example, WorksafeBC moved in with new measures such as protective barriers and a requirement for multiple workers on overnight shifts.

According to Walsh, he wasn’t even aware of some of the rules he broke, and has already fixed several of the problems cited.

Some of it’s just common sense. You shouldn’t need a WorksafeBC inspector to tell you to keep a first-aid kit on the premises.

Another issue was the lack of a workplace bullying policy. That’s standard stuff in any workplace these days but small operators need reminding of such things.

Worksafe BC, it should be noted, doesn’t have a spotless record, either. It has been criticized in the past for not being tough enough in protecting overnight workers from robberies, for example, so maybe Walsh’s situation has something to do with WorksafeBC trying to up its own game.

The agency has a big mandate to protect workers, ranging from small stores to major industries and sometimes cases involving terrible accidents and death. It’s easy to see how educating small-business people like Walsh on all the do’s and don’ts can be lost in the shuffle.

Ultimately, it’s the merchant’s responsibility but Walsh has a point when he says WorksafeBC needs to do a better job of informing small-business owners about regulations.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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Editor's Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.