Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
A gas station attendant who was fatally injured in a recent gas-and-dash has Ontario’s Labour ministry considering whether or not to impose or prepay policy for stations to prevent similar incidents.
On May 19, 2011, at about 4:55 pm, Hashem Atifeh Rad was struck by a vehicle as it sped away without paying a gas station in Mississauga, Ontario. Police were told the driver was seen covering his license plates before attending the gas station, notes a statement from the Peel Regional Police.
Police arrived to find rad on the pavement with critical injuries. The 62-year-old worker was taken to hospital, but succumbed to his injuries the next day.
MOL officials are awaiting investigation findings before determining what steps, if any, should be taken, says Greg Dennis, a Ministry spokesperson in Toronto. One possibility is to consider ways to enhance the safety of station workers, and the prepay policy “is certainly an option we can look at,” Dennis says.
“What we would need to do here is begin conversations, take advice from a lot of other people that would be involved in this,” such as police consumer groups, municipalities and businesses.
In a bid to get things moving, members of the Toronto-based Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) were to vote in late June on a resolution requesting that the province legislate mandatory prepay services and gas stations.
British Columbia instituted its pay than pump system in 2008 following the death of a young attendant. Grant’s law, named for Grant DePattie who died from injuries sustained during a gas-and-dash in 2005, requires prepayment of gasoline and details safe work practices and protections for station workers.
For some, skyrocketing gas prices may be incentive enough to steal. OACP spokesperson Joe Couto acknowledges that such incidents occur regardless of gas prices, but adds that reports from many jurisdictions indicate “a bit of a spike in those types of crimes just because an increasing gas prices puts a squeeze on everybody.”
Bill Simpkins, a spokesperson in Halifax for the Canadian petroleum products Institute, says prepayment is generally available at gas stations owned by major companies. In some outlets where there is a high incidence of theft, cameras are installed in surrounding convenience stores to monitor activities.
Workers should not take the law into their own hands. “He was trying to do the right thing,” Couto says of the Ontario worker who tried to stop theft.” “Unfortunately, he paid for it with his life.”
Instead, workers should contact police and provide as much information as possible. For their part, Couto says employers should ensure workers “understand their safety is much more important than trying to apprehend somebody taking off with $60 worth of gas.”
Establishing surveillance around an entire building, especially using cameras to capture license plate numbers, is also a good measure, he adds.
Dennis points out that employers, in Ontario, are required by law to assess risk and implement measures to control those risks. “For gas stations, one of those risks that need to be addressed is gas-and-dash,” he says.
There have been horror stories dealing with this particular issue. Many of the gas station attendants have been told, privately, that they are responsible for any shortages during his/her shift. No one will ever admit to this but that is the truth of it, thus the need to attempt to stop the gas-and-dash incidents.
Someone has to be held responsible! Too bad the owner/manager feels the attendant is the one who is on the hook.
The article explains that many of the large chains do have pay at the pump options. I, myself, have used that option on occasion.
At the present time, the number of gas-and-dash incidents should be reduced because of the drop in gas prices. Mind you, when prices rise again it would not be out of the realm of possibility to see an increase in gas-and-dash incidents placing operators at risk.
If you are a gas station attendant, and feel that your owner/manager has not placed your safety above all else, then please contact the MOL and have it reported. You are entitled to a safe workplace.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.