via BC Federation of Labour
Vancouver, BC - WorkSafeBC announced today that safety regulations protecting employees working alone will be essentially revoked on April 15, 2012, a move that is being condemned by the family of Grant DePatie and the B.C. Federation of Labour.
The new stripped-down Regulation allows the employers to sidestep requirements that the door be locked and a window used to exchange money and goods between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, when employees are working alone.
The Regulation was named Grant's Law in honour of Grant DePatie, a young gas station attendant killed on the job while working alone in Maple Ridge. At the time of its introduction, the Regulation was considered among the best in Canada.
"It is extremely disappointing to see WorkSafeBC sacrifice evidence-based safety regulations after a lobby based only on the profit motive of late night employers," said Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour. "This is a huge setback for some of the most vulnerable and lowest paid workers in the province."
Doug DePatie, Grant's father, echoed Sinclair's anger at the decision. "Grant's death has been relegated back to the cost of doing business. I feel like we're back at square one.""When the spotlight was on Grant's death, WorkSafeBC scrambled to show they were taking action to protect late night workers, and doing right by Grant," said DePatie. "Two years later, with the issue out of the spotlight, WorkSafeBC is caving to employer demands to make workplaces more dangerous. They seem to have forgotten the negligence that led to Grant's death."
Sinclair pointed out that many stores have two people working or lock the doors at night already. "Watering down safety standards rewards employers who aren't concerned with the safety of their employees and punishes those who work to a higher standard."
In response to suggestions the new standards will still protect workers, Sinclair said that the best late night workers could hope for is that when they are robbed violently, they are lucky enough to survive and have their assault caught on video and their employer notified.
De Patie and Sinclair called on the Minister of Labour and WorkSafeBC's Board of Directors to reverse the decision and do their jobs --- which is to protect vulnerable workers, not lower safety standards because of a strong business lobby from employers who do not care for the safety of their employees.