EDMONTON — A bill that would enhance protection for fuel and convenience-store employees is one step closer to reality, as Alberta mulls proposed legislation requiring violence-prevention plans and pre-payment for fuel at gas stations across the province.
According to a statement issued by the Alberta goverment on October 30, the province’s Minister of Labour Christina Gray met Lawrence Richler, vice-president of Canadian Products Marketing with Husky Energy Inc. at the Brookview Husky in Edmonton to discuss measures to improve worker safety at fueling stations. If the proposed legislation is passed, An Act to Protect Gas and Convenience Store Workers would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Code to include mandatory pre-payment for fuel and violence-prevention plans at retail fuel and convenience stores. The new measures are expected to take effect on June 1, 2018.
Over the past three years, “gas-and-dash” incidents at both urban and rural locations in the province have resulted in five worker deaths and serious injuries to three other workers. The rates of fuel theft incidents reported to police rose between 2011 and 2015. The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police estimates that there were more than 4,000 incidents across the province in 2015, averaging 12 fuel thefts per day.
“As Albertans, our hearts break when we see incidents of violence involving workers. That is why we are taking action to increase safety for retail fuel and convenience store workers,” Minister Gray says in a statement.
Where pay-at-the-pump technology is not available, retailers can institute other options, such as requiring customers to deposit cash or a credit card with the cashier before fueling begins. Several fuel retailers in Alberta have already established, or are working to establish, mandatory fuel pre-payment polices.
“Pre-payment eliminates the risks associated with fuel payments, and we applaud the government for taking this important step to protect attendants and the public,” Richler says.
Doug Rosencrans, vice-president and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada, says he believes that pre-payment of fuel purchases will improve employee and public safety in Alberta. “For many years, 7-Eleven Canada has run an employee-safety program similar to the safety plan announced today.”
Alberta’s oh&s legislation requires employers to take all reasonable steps to protect worker health and safety. Proposed violence-prevention plans, which would help employers reduce the potential for violence through physical and procedural control measures, include safe cash-handling procedures.
For retail workplaces that are open to the public between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., time-lock safes that cannot be opened during those hours are required. Employers should also limit the quantities of certain items, such as cash, lottery tickets and tobacco, available during those hours. Other measures include visible signs indicating to the public that the retailer uses time-lock safes, equipping lone employees with personal emergency transmitters and providing worker training in all aspects of the violence-prevention plan, the statement notes.
SAULT STE MARIE — Hugger Inc., a taxi company known as Checker Cab which is no longer in business, and Hugh Irwin, director of the company in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, were sentenced on October 24 for failing to pay wages owed to more than 30 claimants, totalling nearly $75,000.
According to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the case dates back to April 2014, when the Ministry responded to employee complaints about the failure to pay wages at Checker Cab. The Ministry’s employment-standards officer issued the company and its director 63 orders to pay, but the orders were not complied with, and an application to review the orders was not filed.
The director, who failed to pay wages owed, pled guilty and was given a 15-day jail sentence for 32 of the count. He was also ordered not to be involved in any capacity, other than being an employee, in a business for the period of one year. The company received a $1,000 fine for each of 31 counts, including a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge. The company is no longer in business and the director has since filed for bankruptcy, the bulletin states.
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Irving Oil Commercial GP was issued a $4 million fine on October 26 after it pled guilty to 34 counts for offences under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act in Saint John Provincial Court.
The fine comprises a financial penalty of $400,320 and $3.6 million for the implementation of research programs to improve the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. In addition, Irving Oil was ordered to submit a corrective measures plan and follow up with Transport Canada (TC), according to a Public Proseution Service of Canada statement.
Following the train derailment in Lac Mégantic, Quebec on July 6, 2013, a joint investigation by TC and the RCMP found that Irving Oil did not comply with all applicable safety requirements by failing to determine the classification of dangerous goods for the crude oil it transported by train. The shipping documents on board the trains were erroneous, and the company also failed to train its employees in the transportation of dangerous goods adequately. These offenses occurred over an eight-month period from November 2012 to July 2013, during which approximately 14,000 cars transported crude oil for Irving Oil.
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau says in a statement, following Irving Oil’s conviction, that his thoughts continue to go out to the community of Lac-Mégantic and all those affected by this tragedy. “Today, we close another chapter in this tragic event through a settlement that we have reached with Irving Oil.”
Garneau adds that following the Lac-Mégantic incident, TC undertook a regulatory investigation, with the assistance of the RCMP, to determine whether a violation to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act had occurred.
“Rail safety remains my top priority. Transport Canada continues to closely monitor the safety of rail operations and the system, as well as the safe transportation of dangerous goods by all modes of transport across Canada,” Garneau says.
NEWMARKET, Ont. – An employer in Newmarket was recently fined $135,000 for a workplace incident two years ago that led to a temporary worker’s severe injuries and eventual death. The incident occurred on Oct. 22, 2015, when the temp was working as a beltline operator’s assistant for Bodycote Thermal Processing Canada Inc., according to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL). The worker was entering a pathway between conveyor beltlines and was hit by a forklift that the beltline operator was driving, causing severe injuries; the temp worker passed away several months later. The MOL investigation determined that stacks of empty bins had blocked the workers’ views and that the workplace had nothing to separate forklift and pedestrian traffic or designated safe crossing points. At the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket, Bodycote pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that workers were not endangered by forklifts, that stored items did not limit sightlines of forklift drivers or pedestrians and that forklift and pedestrian traffic was sufficiently separated. Justice of the Peace Karen Walker imposed the fine, plus a victim fine surcharge, on Oct. 13 of this year.
FEDERAL – In its ongoing campaign to eliminate sexual misconduct in the military, the Canadian Forces (CF) National Investigative Service charged two more members with assault against colleagues on Oct. 24. A news release from the Department of National Defence (DND) stated that Bombardier Mathieu Poirier, based at 2 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Petawawa, Ont., is facing charges of drunkenness and sexual assault under the National Defence Act, pertaining to an alleged incident in May at the CF base in Wainwright, Alta. According to a separate DND release, the Service has also laid two charges of sexual assault against Leading Seaman Darryl Ryan, a member of HMCS Fredericton in Halifax. These charges stemmed from two alleged incidents at the CF base in Borden, Ont., in Sept. 2016. “Accusations of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour are always taken seriously,” Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Cadman, commanding officer of the National Investigation Service, said in a press statement. “Military police always investigate such cases to determine the facts, analyze evidence and, when warranted, lay charges.” Dates and locations of court martials in both cases are to be determined.
CONCORD, Ont. – A manufacturer of baked goods has been fined $70,000, plus a victim fine surcharge, for its role in a temporary worker’s critical injuries at its Concord facility last year. A court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) stated that a group of employees of FGF Brands Inc. had been cleaning machinery on July 30, 2016, with the temp worker working on a dough chunker. As the worker was reaching inside the chunker to scrape off dried dough, a reset button was pushed and the blades inside rotated into the closed position and trapped the worker; after the chunker was dismantled, the worker was sent to a hospital. The subsequent MOL investigation determined that FGF had failed to ensure that workers had locked out machinery before cleaning or servicing it. The employer later pleaded guilty to violating section 76 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation, and Justice of the Peace Karen Walker passed sentence at the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket on Oct. 13 of this year.
WINNIPEG, Man. – The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) has arrested a 24-year-old man who is accused of assaulting a Winnipeg Transit employee on the morning of Oct. 18. According to a WPS media release, a man entered a bus by the back door without paying a fare and then verbally abused the driver when the latter confronted him. Shortly afterwards, a transit inspector tried to speak with the passenger, and the man threatened and assaulted the inspector, even tearing his uniform in the scuffle. Police were contacted at about 11:58 a.m., and both workers restrained the suspect until WPS General Patrol officers arrived. Winnipeg resident Daniel Caneda was charged with assault, uttering threats and mischief under $5,000.
MONCTON, N.B. – The government of New Brunswick aims to have new regulations on workplace violence in place before April 28, the next National Day of Mourning, according to an Oct. 18 news release from the province’s Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. To do so, the Department has put together a steering committee of stakeholders, including government and labour representatives, to tackle the issues of violence, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and other worker priorities. “Your government is committed to ensuring that all New Brunswickers can work in healthy, respectful and inclusive workplaces,” Gilles LePage, the province’s Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister, said in a press statement. “Education and awareness are crucial, and we will continue to educate the public, workers and employers on the importance of creating safe and healthy workplaces.” New Brunswick Nurses’ Union president Paula Doucet said in a statement that she was “pleased” with the Department’s commitment to the violence problem. The regulations will be applicable to all industries in the province, the release noted.
CALGARY, Alta. – Three years after one of its employees was seriously injured by a three-metre fall on the job in Calgary, one of the companies involved in the incident was recently fined $80,000, plus a $12,000 victim fine surcharge, and sentenced to serve two years of corporate probation. An undated announcement on the Alberta Labour website stated that a work crew was assembling a wall on the second floor of a house under construction on May 27, 2014, when a temporary structure supporting the wall gave way, causing one of the workers to fall to the ground floor. On Sept. 5 of this year, 1800375 Alberta Ltd. was convicted of failing to protect workers’ safety, to ensure that workers were using fall protection when required and to have qualified first-aid personnel on the worksite. An additional charge of failing to develop a fall-protection plan was stayed conditionally, and other charges against the company were dropped; additional charges against Tuan Luu and Marciano Contracting were also withdrawn.
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. – A Northwest Territories man has been fined $1,000 after being convicted under the territorial Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for allowing himself, his wife and a friend to work on a roof without fall-protection equipment last year. According to a media release from the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC), Paul Curren and the other two individuals were working on the roof of a home he was building for his family on July 16, 2016; according to the definition under the N.W.T. Safety Act, Curren was acting as an employer and was therefore required to comply with oh&s law. He later pleaded guilty in the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife to failing to ensure that employees were using a fall-protection system where they could fall at least three metres; other charges were dropped, and Curren was sentenced on Oct. 11 of this year. “It is important to note that a homeowner who has friends, family members or others performing work in or on the home may be an employer under the Safety Act and is required to ensure safe work and compliance with the legislation,” the WSCC stated in the release.