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The benefits of having a video surveillance system in the workplace are self-evident. They act as a deterrent to reckless and criminal behavior simply by being present and visible. They record evidence of incidents (criminal or safety-related), allowing managers to review, investigate and take whatever corrective action the situation calls for.
If paired with robust video analytics, video surveillance systems can actually alert security staff of any unusual behavior happening on sites, like a vehicle driving the wrong way down a one-way road, or a person idling near a secured area for a prolonged period of time. In those cases, security staff can take a proactive approach to provide safety and security on site.
That being said, businesses in Alberta have to meet certain requirements and follow certain rules and guidelines when they use video surveillance in the workplace. These are in place so that video surveillance will only be used after the need for it has been seriously considered and established.
Here’s a quick overview.
Confirming the Need
Business owners and managers will have to ask themselves why they want to install a video surveillance system. Are site safety and security the primary needs? Are they looking to monitor employee productivity? Is there another reason?
Once that objective has been determined, employers have to do their research and see if there is a less invasive way to meet it. It may involve hiring additional security staff, modifying work schedules or some other practice or decision. If a business case can be made showing that video surveillance is the best way to meet the objective, then business owners must do as much as possible to limit the use of video surveillance to serving that purpose, and that purpose only.
Limiting the Use of Video Surveillance
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta requires that business owners make every effort to limit the use of video surveillance to the stated purpose. To that end, they’ve provided a list of guidelines to help employers get the information they need while protecting the privacy of customers and members of the public. Those guidelines include:
- Using cameras that record during specific times of the day as opposed to those that record 24/7.
- Not installing cameras in places where people have a reasonably heightened expectation of privacy, like a washroom or a locker room. In addition, business owners should avoid aiming cameras towards areas where there is a heightened expectation of privacy.
- Not recording audio unless there is a specific need to do so.
- Not recording individuals who have no reason to be monitored. For example, a liquor store owner may install video surveillance to deter shoplifting and robbery, but those cameras should not be installed in such a way that they would record people simply walking past the store. Those passers-by are not persons of interest until they enter the store and should not be recorded arbitrarily.
For more information on the guidelines, check out this FAQ from Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner.
Letting People Know
It may be as simple as putting a sign out front or a sticker on the door, but businesses are required to let people know that the building they are about to enter is monitored by a video surveillance system. That way, customers and members of the public can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to enter.
When it comes to monitoring employees, it is advisable that employers have a clearly stated policy to let staff know why and how the company uses video surveillance systems. In addition to having this policy documented and easily accessible to employees, Calgary-based law firm
- “There is evidence that less intrusive alternatives to video surveillance were attempted and failed or were carefully considered and reasonably rejected.
- The employer has periodically evaluated the need for continuing video surveillance.
- Legislative requirements are met relating to use, disclosure, and access to information captured on video; and
- Employees are aware of their rights of access and who to contact about any questions”.
Click the link above to read the full article from MacLeod Law.
Why Businesses Use Video Surveillance
There are several reasons to install video surveillance systems in the workplace. Loss prevention and evidence gathering (in the event of criminal activity) are two, but workplace safety is another.
For example, if an employee is injured working at the loading bay of an Edmonton warehouse, having a record of the incident would let managers know what led to it. From there, deliberate, informed decisions could be made about how to reduce the risk of it happening again. The end result would be a better-informed safety policy, improved safety practices, and a safer, healthier workplace for everyone.
Video surveillance also allows employers, managers and security personnel to take a proactive approach to safety and security, especially when paired with robust video analytics.
For example, if CCTV cameras were to capture footage of a vehicle idling near the entrance to a privately-owned site (like a refinery or a lumber mill), video analytics could alert security personnel of the vehicle’s presence, and even read the license plate. If the vehicle and driver were authorized to be on-site, they could be granted admission.
On the other hand, If the driver was not authorized, security personnel could intervene by turning the driver away. Turning away someone who hadn’t been pre-authorized to enter the job site could go a long way to preventing a safety-related incident in an industrial environment where sensitive, and sometimes dangerous, work is carried out every day.
In previous blogs, we’ve talked about the need to plan your video surveillance system from a technical perspective – choosing the right equipment and software, mapping out your system, and so on. But there are also certain policies and processes that need to be considered before you go ahead.
Your HR department is a great place to start if you’re trying to wrap your head around the rules. But, don’t hesitate to contact Tridon. Our Account Managers support the security needs of customers all over Alberta. We’re here to help.
Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA. Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections, and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.