Risks of Working Alone

A young worker newly employed has been assaulted during a robbery while working at a 24-hour service station. The worker was alone during the night shift when they were attacked.

At 9 pm three men entered the service station separately and waited until other customers had left. One man jumped the hip height counter and violently assaulted the young worker. After the offenders left the premises the worker dialled 000 and was taken to hospital with bruising and abrasion. The worker then resigned and commenced trauma counselling.

This case highlights the extra risk of working alone – help is not readily available during an emergency. Recently ‘softer targets’ for robbery such as convenience stores and service stations have been at higher risk because they don’t have the same measures in place to protect employees.

In this case, the worker was young, inexperienced, and working unsupervised. The service station was on a main road, surrounded by carparks, the counter did not have any jump wires or screens and there was no prepayment option outside the service station. These factors all accumulated risk.

Employers must carry out site-specific risk assessments and ensure risk measures are put in place as far as practicable. Options to reduce the risk of violence and robbery at service stations and similar workplaces where staff work alone at night should be implemented to protect employees and can include:

  • Good lighting and visibility in parking areas and shop with mirrors for blind spots
  • Security cameras and signage to deter potential offenders such as “large amounts of cash not kept on the premises”.
  • Alternative payment options for petrol stations e.g. pay at the pump, night counter or via an app.
  • Alarms either under-bench duress, keys on till or personal duress when away from the counter.
  • Staff training in cash-handling and managing violent situations, emergency procedures and operation of security devices can also help reduce risk.
  • If feasible have two employees working during high-risk periods e.g. open and closing times.

Employers need to be aware that if a serious incident occurs this may have a severe impact on employee’s psychological wellbeing even if physical injuries are not significant. This is especially likely if the employee is young or inexperienced. Therefore post-incident counselling should be offered and management should follow up incidents offering support and checking on recovery.

Contact ProcessWorx to speak to us about our Safety Packages for small businesses and farms on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.