According to the Calgary Herald, a national security company recently pleaded guilty to failing to protect a female security guard who was raped while working alone. Garda Canada Security Corp. pleaded guilty to violating the province’s OHS Act on Feb. 23 and faces more than $90,000 in penalties. It had no prior OHS violations.
Crown prosecutor Alison McGill said this case was the first prosecution in Alberta—and possibly all of Canada—where a company was charged under the OHS laws after a worker working alone was the victim of a crime. (Go to our Workplace Violence Compliance Center for articles and other resources, such as model policies, surveys, checklists and the like that you can download and use in your workplace.)
McGill told court that the 34-year-old victim—who was in only her second week of security work—was called by a supervisor to keep watch overnight at a site where a Shoppers Drug Mart was under construction after a co-worker called in sick.
The company hadn’t conducted a hazard assessment at the work site before work began. “The work site was unsecured and there was no means to prevent unauthorized entry into the premises,” said McGill. She acknowledged that although it was foreseeable that someone might unlawfully enter the work site, the security company couldn’t have foreseen the vicious attack that occurred.
The guard called her company’s dispatch at about 3:00 a.m. to report hearing voices and banging noises on the worksite. The call was transferred to 911 and while she was on the phone, an intruder asked her to call a taxi. Moments after she ended the phone call, the intruder, later identified as Renno Lonechild, dragged her into a room and raped her. He was later arrested and sentenced to eight years’ jail.
Garda’s lawyer and the Crown agreed that the company should pay a $5,000 fine and contribute $85,000 to the Alberta Construction Safety Association for the development of programs to assess worksite safety and train security guards. Details of the payment must still be worked out by the Alberta Construction Safety Association. The proposed penalty will then be presented to the judge on March 31.