1704c Sustainability reporting: raising the bar for safety and health management

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Abstract

Sustainability reporting has emerged as a key driver for businesses to set ambitious goals, display leadership, innovate, and continuously improve their practices in ways that go beyond compliance with existing regulations. While a safety and health management program that prevents worker injuries and illnesses is a logical component of an organisation’s sustainability efforts, these programs have not been a focus of reporting practices to date. Where occupational safety and health has been included in sustainability reports, such reporting has emphasised quantitative indicators such as total and lost-time injury rate histories; little information has typically been provided on other important indicators of performance such as the nature of processes to identify and address safety and health risks, approaches to worker training, practices to encourage reporting of safety and health concerns by employees, and auditing procedures. Updates to the GRI’s occupational health and safety disclosures, which shift the focus to qualitative and descriptive approaches for evaluating whether systems are in place to effectively and proactively manage worker safety and health, help set the stage for improved worker protection. Although these disclosures provide a much improved framework for enterprises to provide information to stakeholders on efforts to mitigate workplace risks, they can also serve as a useful model for corporate managers and safety and health professionals to evaluate the strength of their safety and health management program even where enterprises do not engage in public sustainability reporting. Developing a safety and health program or enhancing an existing one based on such a framework can help all organisations better protect workers and improve business performance.

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