Retail and Services 2014: Morguard

Morguard is the gold winner in the retail and services category for the 2014 Canada's Safest Employers Awards

Real estate, investment and management company Morguard takes a systematic approach to safety management. That approach, which aims to engage workers and management alike, has proven successful.

“Our system ensures everyone is a part of the process and safety gets into every part of the day-to-day operations. It’s first and foremost,” says Suman Bhasker, national manager of occupational health, safety and security at the Mississauga, Ont.-based company.

Morguard’s philosophy, that safety is number 1, along with senior management’s commitment to their occupational health and safety programs, is the starting point of the system, he says. From there, the occupational health and safety team does a comprehensive risk assessment, ensuring they are complying with all regulations, internal policies and best practices. They then implement operational controls, including emergency preparedness.


Managers are responsible for monitoring the OHS program to make sure safe procedures are being followed. That management review is reinforced by an internal audit program, Bhasker says. Every year Morguard audits some key assets to ensure properties are in compliance with legislation and company policies.

As fiduciaries, says John May, director of risk management and insurance, the company believes it needs to understand its risks extremely well.

“Employees are one of our biggest assets — and our biggest risks, as well. So we make sure they understand that we’re a team and that we have to work together as a team to perform well and to ensure we minimize the risk to them and to ourselves,” he says.

Morguard, which has 1,500 employees across Canada and the United States, communicates safety information in several ways. On the intranet site, employees can view OHS policies and procedures, manuals and forms. The various company properties have boards where key OHS policies and programs are posted, such as the workplace violence and harassment policy.

May says the senior team fully supports the OHS program, ensures workers are trained to meet the risks they face and provides employees with the equipment and tools they need to succeed.

“They lead by example, because it’s not what you say, it’s what you do and how you act,” he says. “Employees can see that senior staff are behind it and that really helps them to stay engaged.”