Garda handed $92,750 in penalties for failing to ensure worker safety

Employee attacked by intruder while guarding construction site

CALGARY — The vast majority of $92,750 in penalties levied against a national security company on Friday, for failing to ensure the safety of a female guard who was raped by an intruder at an unsecure construction site nearly five years ago, will go to a new program for safety training of lone workers.

Provincial court Judge Marlene Graham accepted the joint sentencing submission by Crown lawyer Alison McGill and Robbie Davidson, counsel for Garda Canada Securities Corp., which pleaded guilty to the Occupational Health and Safety Act charge.

The total amount includes a $5,000 fine and $750 victim fine surcharge, plus $87,000 for the Hazard Assessment Working Alone program at SAIT Polytechnic starting in September 2012.

“I like this program,” said the 39-year-old woman who was attacked by the man about 3 a.m. on Nov. 1. “I feel nobody will get hurt after this program is going. It will benefit everybody.”

Previously, the victim, who had been living in Canada for three years and had only been issued her security guard licence by Garda three weeks prior to the assault, told court in a victim impact statement she thought she was going to die.

“I was scared when I got there that night,” she recalled on Friday outside court. “There was no entrance. It was just covered with plastic. When I heard the noise, I was in the corner so he wouldn’t see me.”

McGill previously told the judge this is the first such prosecution under the OHSA in Alberta, and possibly Canada, where a company has been charged after an employee working alone was the victim of a criminal offence.

The victim was called by a supervisor to keep watch overnight at a Macleod Trail site where a Shoppers Drug Mart was under construction after a co-worker called in sick.

Graham said Garda’s primary negligence was failing to conduct a specific site assessment.

“In my view, this was very obviously a dangerous and unsafe site,” said the judge. “It was an outdoor site just off Macleod Trail. “There was an exit door at the back that was always locked. One wonders why you’d have an exit door if it’s always locked.”

Graham noted the front of the site was covered by an orange tarp flap that was unsecured. She was provided with a chair, but no means of protection from anyone who might venture on to the site.

“There was a high degree of probability an intruder might enter at night in winter, for warmth or to take construction material . . . who knows what else,” she said.

“It was also foreseeable that a criminal act could happen. It was patently unsafe and not addressed by Garda. It showed a high degree of negligence. (The victim) was affected profoundly by the sexual and physical assault.

“Garda is not to be prosecuted for the act of the intruder, but for its own negligence.”

By Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald July 8, 2011