Grant’s Law not gutted: Mac’s

Doug Hartl, Manager of Security-Loss Prevention, Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc., responds to April 21 article.

Re: Protests against “gutted” Grant’s Law (The News, April 12).

I am writing to correct misinformation that appeared in your article of April 12, which makes several false claims about Grant’s Law and Macs Convenience Stores’ response to it.

Grant’s law is a WorkSafeBC regulation that was named in honour of Grant DePatie, a young gas station attendant killed on the job when he left the building during a drive-off theft.  Grant’s Law requires mandatory prepayment of fuel in B.C., eliminating the possibility of drive-off thefts and associated risks to employees.  This requirement has overwhelming support in B.C., both from Macs and from the rest of the convenience and gas retail industry.

As the DePatie incident happened during late night hours, WorkSafeBC added another requirement that included measures extending to all late night retail employers, including convenience stores with or without attached gas stations.  Stores choosing to stay open late were required to either have two workers during late night hours or to physically separate a lone worker from the public with a barrier.

To many it may seem intuitively that this is the right thing to do. It is not. Using a barrier or having two employees present would not have prevented the horrifying death of Grant DePatie.  And inside a retail store, these measures will actually increase the risk of harm in situations involving robbery and potential violence, not only to employees but also to customers.

Between 2008 and 2011, the retail industry and WorkSafeBC developed and installed various barrier designs inside Macs convenience stores to assess their impact.  The evaluation, performed by Deloitte Canada, confirmed that barriers would focus aggression at store property or the employee(s).

The finding was consistent with what security experts tell us – that the installation of barriers separating employees from the public runs contrary to the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), and could result in more criminal acts than they were intended to reduce.  Store designs that tell visitors they are dangerous do not elicit friendly behaviour, and they increase the likelihood that unfriendly visitors will show aggression.

The argument for requiring two staff is that employees working alone are “sitting ducks” to violent attacks.  However, as pointed out by Dr. Rosemary Erickson in her study Two Clerks, if someone enters a store with the willingness or intent to inflict harm, having two workers present only doubles the risk.

The secret to personal security is to eliminate the intent to cause harm. In retail environments, this is managed by adopting measures that Macs and many other convenience stores already have in place. In December 2011, WorkSafeBC included these measures in its late night retail regulation.  All late night retailers are now required to install a barrier, employ two staff and/or establish a comprehensive violence prevention program.

The 2008 late night retail regulation lacked any requirement to implement proven measures such as these.  The late night retail regulation is an improved package of measures that protects staff both day and night, not just after 11 p.m.

Mac’s Convenience Stores makes the safety of employees and the public paramount.  Our company has an excellent safety record because of the practices the industry has developed over the past two decades.  We will continue to implement any and all practices that contribute to the safety of employees and the public and to support the industry as a whole in achieving the same standards by freely sharing our best practices.

 

Doug Hartl

Manager of Security-Loss Prevention

Mac’s Convenience Stores Inc.

(Western Canada)