Suncor's safety record in the spotlight as activist investor calls for change

A pedestrian is reflected in a Suncor Energy sign in Calgary, Feb. 1, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Experts say Suncor Energy Inc.'s recent safety track record is concerning and indicates there is a broader managerial problem at the company.

Activist investor Elliott Investment Management wrote a letter last week calling for changes to Suncor's board and a review of its executive leadership.

Elliott said in its letter that Suncor must overhaul its safety culture. Since 2014, there have been 12 workplace deaths at Suncor sites, which Elliott said is more than all of the company's closest peers combined.

Analysts say investors care about safety performance because it's an indicator of how well-run a company is.

They say companies that have a high number of on-the-job injuries tend to have problems in other areas too, like production and efficiency.

The rise of sustainable investment practices also means that investors are putting more focus on social issues like workplace safety.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022.