Brink’s Canada ordered to change ‘All Off’ model to better protect armed guards

Click to play video 'Dangerous working conditions for armoured car staff' Dangerous working conditions for armoured car staff
WATCH ABOVE: A federal labour ruling has found dangerous working conditions at the Edmonton branch of Brink's Canada Ltd. The union representing the workers hopes this ruling spurs an industry overhaul. Fletcher Kent reports – Aug 22, 2016

The federal ministry of labour has ordered Brink’s Canada Limited to change its practice relating to the driver and guard both exiting the armoured vehicle at drop-offs and pick-ups, saying it puts workers in danger.

The decision comes after an investigation into a continued refusal to work by an employee in Edmonton.

In the official direction to the employer, the federal health and safety officer outlined Brink’s is subject to the Canada Labour Code.

In its decision, Jason Elliott, an official delegated by the minister of labour, said:

“The “All Off” model that is currently being used (in which the driver/guard exits the armoured vehicle and escorts the messenger carrying the valuables, into customer locations for drop-offs and pick-ups) does not sufficiently mitigate against the danger of employees being assaulted during a robbery attempt.

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“The model does not provide the employees with any information of suspicious persons or activities occurring outside while they are inside the customer’s location,” Elliot wrote.

“As a result, the employees have a diminished ability to avoid a potential ambush upon returning to the armoured vehicle.”

Brink’s Canada Ltd. was ordered to “alter the activity that constitutes the danger immediately.”

The company has until Aug. 26 to inform Health and Safety the measures taken to comply with the order.

READ MORE: Some security guards can carry guns, but can be charged for shooting 

The union that represents more than 310,000 workers in multiple sectors – including more than 1,500 armoured car guards – applauds the investigation and calls the ruling “life saving.”

“This is a tremendous step forward for the safety of all armoured car workers,” Mike Armstrong, Unifor national staff representative said. “This decision has the potential to save lives.

“We now look to the entire industry to eliminate the unnecessary danger associated with “All off” crews.”

Unifor does not represent the person involved in a continued refusal to work. Unifor says the ruling only applies to Brink’s operations in the City of Edmonton and it hopes to see wider change.

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The union says there have been more than 85 armoured car robberies since 2000 in Canada, resulting in five deaths and countless physical and mental injuries. Unifor added that, since 2013, each publicly-reported robbery has involved a two-person armoured guard crew, with many occurring in public spaces or near residential areas.

Unifor says it has been working to make the industry safer by creating federal standards in employee training, vehicle specifications, crew complements and safety equipment requirements. The union is calling for all party support of Bill C-285, a private member’s bill that would require new federal regulations.

Bill C-285 would require the federal government to begin consultations on a national standard for armoured car workers. It would also mandate that a report must be publicly released within two years of the act taking force. C-285 also says part of the consultations must include crew size.

“These employees face potential danger on every shift,” Armstrong said. “We look forward to working with our industry partners to implement new protocols to protect them.”

The union wants a driver to remain in the truck at all times, acting as the eyes and ears for other crew members. It also wants three-person crews.

Brink’s did not respond to Global News’ requests for an interview.

READ MORE: Suspect killed in Edmonton armoured car robbery former roommate of Thomas Svekla 

On July 8, two male suspects pepper sprayed and robbed two guards at a TD Canada Trust bank in the area of 25 Avenue and Hewes Way.

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It is alleged that two robbery suspects approached the GardaWorld guards, pepper sprayed them and demanded cash from the guards.

“It appears as though two Garda armoured car vehicle guards were ambushed by two suspects, two male suspects,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said July 8.

Pattison said one of the guards fired his gun, killing one of the two male suspects.

Police said Monday the second suspect had still not been apprehended.

READ MORE: Families of 2 HUB mall shooting victims are suing killer and G4S 

Four years ago, three armoured guards were killed in Edmonton. In June 2012, Travis Baumgartner shot four of his co-workers, three fatally, in a robbery on the University of Alberta campus.

He was later sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated on Aug. 23 to reflect that Teamsters is the union that represents the employee who filed the refusal to work. Unifor does not represent that worker, but applauds the ruling and would like to see changes across the industry to protect all armed guards, including the 1,500 it represents.