The Indiana Department of Labor is preparing to launch a major initiative aimed at convenience store owners to adopt security measures on lighting, bulletproof enclosures and more.
The security measures are expected to give low-wage, hourly employees who work in convenience stores a safer work environment.
Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres told the Pharos-Tribune that there needs to be a “culture of safety” in the c-store industry.
“No one should have to risk being killed at work,” Torres said.
These measures come as a response to a series of shootings that illustrate why convenience stores are known as high-risk workplaces by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Torres said convenience stores have minimal legal safety standards.
Convenience store safety managers, state labor department officials, police and others have been meeting since the release of this initiative. A report is expected to come out in mid-June that outlines the best safety practices for convenience stores. The goal is to promote voluntary action from convenience store operators.
In 2002, New Mexico forced convenience store owners to put sweeping security measures into place for clerks working late-night hours, and the number of robberies dropped by 92% in the state. The Indiana Department of Labor hopes to create similar measures and statistics.
Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, told the Pharos-Tribune that he has been a part of that working group. Imus said there is a lot of research out there that shows what safety measures work.
Safety measures that work include bright lighting inside and outside stores, leaving windows clear of enough advertising signs and clutter so passers-by can see inside the store, and keeping a slotted safe so that clerks don’t have full registers.
Imus said many of the members of his association have already adopted better safety practices, but only about half of the state’s 3,000 convenience stores belong to Imus’ association. Imus said he’s not convinced that tougher measures are needed for all stores, and instead thinks owners should choose for themselves what measures to take.
“There is no ‘one size fits all,’” he said.