Report Recommends Standardized Sustainability Reporting

"A high sustainability performance rating rings hollow if the business fails to keep its workers safe and healthy," said Kathy A. Seabrook, chair of the CSHS board of directors. "New levels of collaboration and compromise are needed among sustainability reporting groups if we are to significantly reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths."

A new report from ASSE's Center for Safety and Health Sustainability covers its second analysis of how recognized "sustainable" companies report occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Titled "The Need for Standardized Sustainability Reporting Practices," it recommends global initiatives that index corporate sustainability should include companies' commitment to safe and healthy workers.

The center's member organizations represent more than 100,000 workplace safety and health professionals worldwide.

"We've learned through our two studies that voluntary sustainability reporting lacks rigor and fails to yield the meaningful data needed to effectively evaluate corporate safety and health performance," said Kathy A. Seabrook, chair of the CSHS board of directors. "The disclosure of data needs to be standardized to help put companies on a truly holistic path to sustainability that recognizes the well-being of workers along with the environment."

CSHS's goal is for organizations to incorporate worker safety and health as part of their sustainable business practices. "Similar to how environmental data is reported in sustainability efforts, a core set of safety and health metrics would help businesses measure achievements in managing human capital," Seabrook explained.

The prior report was released in 2013; they focus on the Corporate Knights' Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, which analyzed publicly reported data between June and December of 2016, identifying changes in reporting practices in the past four years related to occupational safety and health sustainability. This second study showed sustainable corporations made little improvement in complying with common safety and health performance indicators.

The report calls for adopting two key indicators on occupational safety and health management systems: tracking how many of a company's work locations implement such systems and how many are audited by an independent third party. CSHS also wants businesses to measure workplace safety and health in their supply chains, reporting that one sustainability leader reported no employee fatalities but reported 27 deaths in its supply chain. "A high sustainability performance rating rings hollow if the business fails to keep its workers safe and healthy," said Seabrook. "New levels of collaboration and compromise are needed among sustainability reporting groups if we are to significantly reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths."

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