(Canadian OH&S News) — Another armoured vehicle robbery in Canada has reignited concerns over the safety of two-person crews by the unions representing these workers.
On the evening of Oct. 29, a GardaWorld armoured truck was robbed in the Montreal borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, said a press release from Unifor. Two armed and masked suspects handcuffed the GardaWorld employees, members of the Syndicat National des Convoyeur(e)s de Fonds (SNCF), and then stole a sack of money from the truck, the release said.
Angélique Paquette, president of Local 3812 of the SNCF, said that the incident highlighted the importance of having a third worker stay inside the truck to serve as a lookout and to ensure the safety of the other two employees working outside.
She also noted that the robbery was the third of its kind this year. On the evening of Jan. 20, two GardaWorld employees allegedly exchanged gunfire during a robbery at Fairview Mall in Toronto. Then, at about 11 p.m. on Aug. 21, two masked men approached two GardaWorld employees stationed at a Royal Bank of Canada branch in Brossard, a suburb of Montreal, attacked them with pepper spray and disarmed them, before escaping with an unconfirmed amount of money.
Unifor noted in the release that the two unions have been calling for improved safety standards for armoured vehicle workers for more than a year. Unifor, which claimed that 70 per cent of armoured vehicle robberies in the last 10 years had been against two-person crews, has called for a national task force into safety standards in the industry and for an end to two-person crews.
“Since 2000, there have been more than 70 attacks on armoured cars in Canada, including three fatalities and two serious injuries,” the release said. “The patchwork of current rules is ineffective, overlapping and, at times, contradictory. It has resulted in minimal regulation.”
Together with the SNCF, Unifor has launched a national campaign calling on federal lawmakers to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework to enhance safety and prevent crime by establishing minimum standards in employee training, vehicle specifications, crew compliments and safety equipment requirements.
The campaign follows rulings earlier this year by two separate federal occupational health and safety officers, who have ordered Brink’s Canada Limited to correct a hazard associated with two-person crews. The first ruling, on Jan. 22, followed a November 2013 work refusal by a Brink’s messenger in Peterborough, Ont., who refused to carry cash to and from an ATM without a guard, arguing it was unsafe for him to carry the money alone while the other crew member stayed in the truck.
Oh&s officer Bob Tomlin agreed that this so-called “one-off” practice was unsafe, ruling that it constituted a danger under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.
Two days after Tomlin’s ruling, another federal oh&s officer, Michael O’Donnell, issued an almost identical decision. Brink’s has been ordered to “take measures to correct the hazard or conditions that constitutes the danger immediately,” provide a copy of that written response to the workplace health and safety committee and post the ruling in the workplace.