Sustainability programs have existed for decades, but their main emphasis has focused on environmental metrics. While these “green” efforts are certainly a part of sustainability, there is a growing trend that a more equal distribution around environmental, social and economic factors — including occupational safety and health — should be recognized. The Campbell Institute, the National Safety Council center of excellence for environmental, health and safety management, has released a white paper entitled “Profiles in Sustainability: Business, Community, and Environment” to demonstrate the connection between worker safety and health and true sustainability.
“It has become increasingly clear that sustainability must go beyond ‘green’ efforts,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute and director of environmental, health, safety and sustainability at the National Safety Council. “Campbell Institute members know there is a strong link between occupational safety and health and sustainability that organizations need to recognize. Businesses are only as sustainable as their people. ”
The white paper, which contains real world experiences of eight Institute members, outlines their best practices for developing and managing sustainability efforts. It explains how sustainability implies a corporate responsibility not only to the planet, but also to the organization’s people by protecting worker health and safety, and to profitability by ensuring a viable business for many years to come.
Five common areas were identified among the research participants, including:
- Defining sustainability according to a “triple bottom line” approach
- Using recognized standards to report on sustainability
- Expressing a need for more and better metrics for return on sustainability efforts
- Finding better leading metrics for sustainability and more ways to correlate environmental sustainability with safety
- Developing aspirational yet attainable sustainability goals
Organizations contributing to the research include AES, Cummins, FCA, ISN, Mosaic, Owens Corning, United Rentals, and USG. The white paper is available for download at the Campbell Institute website.
The National Safety Council and Campbell Institute also contributed to the new OSHA white paper addressing this shift, “Sustainability in the Workplace: A New Approach for Advancing Worker Protections,” and strongly support further innovation in expanding the common focus areas of sustainability. The December 2016 white paper from OSHA is available for download here.