What qualifies as a “safe?”

March 23, 2022

Tips for pharmacy teams when purchasing a time-delayed safe.

ACP has been getting questions about what qualifies as a safe as pharmacy teams work towards complying with the amended Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies (SOLP). The amended standards require that community pharmacies store all drugs described in standard 5.11 in a safe with a time-delayed lock, as required in standard 4.7(d).

To be compliant with the amended standards, a safe must meet this description:

 The safe must

  • be strong, constructed of solid metal;
  • contain an internal complex locking mechanism, equipped with a certified digital lock operated in conjunction with a time-delay release; and
  • be of a nature that it cannot be easily removed from the facility, either having the ability to be bolted to the ground or having a size and weight that cannot be readily moved.

Other specifications of the safe are at the discretion of the licensee, including size, with the caveat that the storage receptacle is a product that is marketed and sold as a “safe.” Locking narcotic cabinets or narcotic drawers are not considered a “safe” and do not meet the new requirements of the SOLP.

If you have a safe that meets the description above, but it does not have a time-delayed mechanism, contact your safe provider or locksmith to see if your safe can be equipped with a time-delay mechanism. Padlocks with a time-delay release do not comply with the amended standards. The safe must have its own locking mechanism, not an external lock separate from the safe itself.

If you do not have a safe that meets these requirements, or that can be upgraded with an internal time-delay mechanism, contact a safe supplier to obtain the appropriate safe. Refer to the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) website for a list of suppliers.

For more information on the requirement of a time-delayed safe—which must be in place before July 1, 2022, in all existing community pharmacies—refer to the FAQ document in the Pharmacy robberies and burglaries section of the ACP website.

Note: This article was updated on Friday, March 25, 2022, to remove reference to "fireproof," as this is not required for time-delay safes in pharmacies.


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