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.
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