IOSH CSR and sustainability policy position 2018

Summary

IOSH advocates OSH beyond minimum compliance in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability agenda to improve performance and save lives around the world. We believe stronger linkage between OSH and CSR and sustainability can help ensure that OSH is viewed more strategically and positively and that standards are raised worldwide.

Health and safety professionals have a leading role to play in building sustainable workforces within sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening reputation, resilience and results.

The facts

  • The concept of business responsibility to society goes back centuries – for example, the UK has a 200-year history of OSH in CSR, first enshrined in law with the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act 1802.
  • However, worldwide, in 2017 there were an estimated 2.78 million work-related fatalities and 374 million non-fatal accidents, costing around 4% of global GDP.
  • In line with our vision of a safe and healthy world of work, IOSH made the case for OSH as a material reporting issue in 2003 and co-founded the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) in 2011.
  • The terms ‘CSR’ and ‘sustainability’ are often used interchangeably and in recent years governmental and other stakeholder interest in this area has grown considerably.
  • Drivers of the agenda include increased globalisation, extended enterprises, 24/7 communication and social media.
  • Increased stakeholder demand for transparency and accountability is also playing a part, leading to growth in corporate reporting requirements, ‘best of’ rankings, and ethical investment.
  • Enlightened self-interest and reputation management is leading more firms to engage in (and report on) socially responsible activities, human capital and relationships, as part of their non-financial reporting.
  • This includes a desire to be competitive, to retain a social licence to operate and to provide assurance to stakeholders.
  • Global developments include the UN’s Guiding principles on business and human rights and its reporting framework, the Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Reporting Exchange, a global resource for sustainability reporting.
  • Relevant international standards include ISO 45001 OSH Management Systems and guidance such as ISO 26000 on social responsibility, ISO 20400 on sustainable procurement and ISO 27500 on human-centred organisations; together with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) social reporting standards 400 series.
  • Countries have a variety of approaches. For example, the UK has narrative reporting requirements, government guidance on the UN guiding principles and statutory guidance on supply chain transparency.

Our position

IOSH advocates OSH beyond minimum compliance in the CSR and sustainability agenda to improve performance and save lives around the world.

IOSH believes it is socially irresponsible and unsustainable for workers to be killed and disabled by work, squandering human talent and damaging our future. On the other hand, better-managed businesses thrive, contributing more to and benefitting more from healthy and sustainable economies and societies.

We believe that going beyond legal compliance on OSH is essential for a sustainable workforce in a globalised world in which there are extended, complex and sometimes unregulated supply chains. We take the view that stronger linkage between OSH and CSR and sustainability can help ensure OSH is viewed more strategically and positively and that standards are raised worldwide. IOSH supports supply chain transparency so that stakeholders can see what actions organisations are taking to prevent modern slavery, protect human rights and create a ‘race to the top’. IOSH supports the CSHS work programme and seeks to promote the use of improved and standardised OSH metrics in combined reports (see CSHS guide).

IOSH has emphasised the benefits of OSH to the EU and global economies in helping to ensure a sustainable workforce and future. We stress that many of the health challenges, including healthy ageing and extended working lives, are long-term and affected by decisions made today. We use the example of ‘long-latency’ health conditions – where exposure today leads to long-term societal costs, while action to prevent disease and promote health and wellbeing leads to future societal gains. We point out that the ‘big global challenges’ (economic, demographic, social, technological and environmental) rely on socially responsible employers and governments and skilled and effective workers for their successful resolution.

IOSH believes health and safety professionals have a leading role to play in building sustainable workforces in sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening reputation, resilience and results.

IOSH resources

Guides and online tools:

Consultation responses: