Safety warning issued after young worker assaulted during service station night shift

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institue of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 30 September, 2020 - 11:45
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Western Australia

Western Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) recently issued a safety alert after an incident in which a young worker was assaulted during a robbery by three males at a 24-hour service station in March 2020.

The worker was new to the job and was working alone for the duration of the night shift.

At around 9 pm, the males entered separately and waited until all other customers had left, and one offender jumped over the hip-height counter and violently assaulted the worker.

Once the offenders left the station, the worker phoned 000 and was taken to hospital suffering abrasions and bruising.

The worker subsequently resigned and undertook trauma counselling.

The alert said there were a number of contributing factors to the incident:

  • The night shift (from 4.00 pm to 8.00 am) is only staffed by one person, while the day shift is staffed by two people.
  • The worker was young, inexperienced and working unsupervised.
  • The service station was surrounded by carparks on three sides and was located on a main road.
  • There was no pre-payment option at pump or a night service window; customers had to prepay inside the service station for fuel from 9.00pm.
  • The counter was hip-height with no jump wires or screens.

 

The alert recommended a number of required actions and said the following measures will assist in developing a safe system of work:

  • Consider the height and depth of the counter and secure staff access to the counter:
    • Install screens and/or jump wires
    • Increase or elevate the height of the counter
    • Increase the depth of the counter
    • Ensure that any access points to the counter (e.g. a gate) are substantial, properly locked at all times and the lock cannot be reached from the public side
  • Ensure clear visibility at all times:
    • Install good lighting around the forecourt, parking areas and inside the premises
    • Ensure unobstructed vision within the premises do not obstruct the shop floor or windows with tall fixtures and fittings
    • Install mirrors for areas of obscured vision
    • Raise floor behind the counter, or provide a high stool, so that the cashier is elevated
    • Install on-site security cameras and prominently display signs saying the premises are monitored
    • Advertise that large amounts of cash aren’t kept on the premises
  • Consider alternative payment options
    • Pay at pump
    • Pay by mobile app
    • Pay at night fill window
  • Alarms
    • Install an under-bench duress alarm, or alarm keys on the till
    • Provide personal duress alarms for all staff to use when they move away from the counter
    • Instruction and training
    • Conduct site-specific risk assessments to identify all hazards, taking into account variations between shifts, and develop procedures based on those risk assessments
    • Train staff in how to manage violent and aggressive situations (including armed hold up) on induction and provide refresher training
    • Train staff in cash-handling procedures, emergency procedures and operation of security devices, and confidentiality of those procedures.
  • Staffing
    • Consider having two employees working during high-risk periods (e.g. at the opening and closing times)
  • Post-incident
    • Look at ways of improving the security of the premises and safety of staff
    • Offer counselling to affected staff