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Health & Safety - Robberies

Published 15 Oct 2017

No matter where you look at the moment media is reporting that small businesses across the country are being targeted for armed robberies, occurrences of this are increasing and it seems like a new incident is being reported on a daily basis.

If your business is handling cash or other items which are easily converted into cash such as cigarettes and alcohol then you could be at risk of robbery. Robbery is defined in the Crimes Act as “theft accompanied by violence or threats of violence, to any person or property used to extort the property stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen”, it then becomes an aggravated robbery if they are armed with an offensive weapon or instrument, or anything appearing to be such a weapon or instrument, or if they cause grievous bodily harm to someone before or after the act of robbery. This is a serious offence and can carry up to 14 years imprisonment.

Although no one wants to go through the trauma that is robbery, it is important to pre-empt this type of situation and be prepared for if it does happen to your business. Under Health and Safety legislation there are duties placed on everyone in the workplace to ensure that risks are managed so far as it is reasonable practicable.  While it is impossible to expect the risk of robbery to be eliminated, the risk can and should be minimised as much as possible, this is the responsibillity of everyone in the workplace.

It is essential that there are effective measures in place to minimise the risk and potential threat to the safety and wellbeing of staff and customers which comes from robbery. Having a clear set company policy and procedures document outlining responsibilities and what needs to be done in the event of a robbery will help to minimise harm which could arise in the event of a robbery; this should be clearly communicated to staff so that they are implemented effectively.

Due to the increased frequency of small businesses being affected by robberies, the New Zealand Police have also provided suggestions on possible ways to reduce your risk of being targeted. They have advised that people who commit these crimes are opportunists and reducing their opportunity will aid in deterring them from targeting your business. Security measures are of uttermost importance, the use of CCTV systems and signage will not only show that you take the security of your business seriously, but will record any incidents that might happen and can help with apprehension of the criminal; ensure that your cameras are positioned in areas that will clearly capture faces. Other suggestions include keeping minimal cash onsite and keeping valuable items locked away. Alongside these suggestions there are various other ways in which you can minimise the risk of robbery as much as reasonably practicable.

Making sure that your staff are trained on what to do in a robbery situation is also vital; taking the wrong actions could endanger themselves and your customers, which in turn will create liability under Health and Safety Law. Having a Health and Safety policy in place that explains what needs to be done during and after a robbery will mitigate your liability.

Regardless of the size of your business, if you need help with setting up a Health and Safety policy and emergency procedures documentation subscribe to our Health and Safety Online Management System which provides the framework for companies to manage and monitor their Health and Safety requirements.