The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is a participant in the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. All participants in the compact sign up to align their strategies with the 10 universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
IOSH activity has been, and remains, active. Our commitments to human capital and sustainability are outlined below against the ten universal principles.
Human Rights (Principles 1 – 2)
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
- IOSH has advocated for many years for health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental human right for all workers. Poor working conditions and ill treatment at work have a huge impact on people’s lives and this puts them at risk of accidents resulting in occupational injury, occupational ill health, and occupational disease. We have called upon the ILO to adopt our recommendation for occupational health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental right at work. This recommendation was supported by its governing body in March 2021.
- We advocate for decent work and the right to a safe and healthy workplace, the protection of workers, and for a prevention-first approach.
- We are committed to continuing to champion occupational safety and health as a fundamental human right for all workers along with other universal rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour.
- We highlight the importance of strengthening the links between human rights and occupational health and safety standards and the prioritisation of the occupational safety and health dimension of human rights due diligence.
- We influence public policy by recommending a focus on human rights, due diligence, responsible business conduct and sustainable corporate governance. IOSH provides technical expertise on working conditions and occupational safety and health aspects that could fill potential gaps within the vision and roadmap for scaling up the implementation of human rights (e.g. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights from the Government of Pakistan (March 2021)).
Principle 2: Businesses should ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses
- IOSH was advocating for action against modern slavery and human trafficking well before the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and we have continued to raise awareness and call for action to “eradicate the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking”. IOSH urges organisations to think about their supply chains. IOSH co-hosted a multi-stakeholder panel debate in the House of Lords called ‘Ethical Fashion 2020: A new vision for transparency’ in 2014 and in 2019 IOSH was an active participant on the advisory group set up by Baroness Young to support her campaign ‘Let’s Make it Work: The Alliance for Transparency in Supply Chains Reporting’ which sought to strengthen legislation to prevent modern slavery and maintain momentum. In 2019 IOSH produced a White Paper called ‘Tackling modern slavery together: the roles of government, employers, professionals and the public’ – available to read here. We continue to remain active in this space and will algin messaging with human capital and sustainability advocacy. Corporately we comply with the legal requirements for modern slavery and human trafficking, and have a policy and arrangements in place to ensure we demonstrate the practice we expect and require of others and fundamentally because we are committed to the protection of people and human rights.
- Following the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, IOSH was active in its advocacy for working conditions to be made safe, healthy, and sustainable. We further advocated that improved due diligence and transparency was required to safeguard vulnerable people in supply chains across the globe. IOSH supported a number of initiatives following this disaster, such as the ‘OHS initiative for workers and communities’ (which was health and safety training co-funded by IOSH and others), the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (and more recently called upon signatories to agree to the revised Bangladesh Accord as of the 2021 changes).
- IOSH is a Category A liaison body on ‘ISO/TC 283 Occupational health and safety management’. The scope of the committee is the standardisation in the field of occupational health and safety management to enable an organisation to control its occupational health and safety (OHS) risks and improve its OHS performance. IOSH were therefore actively involved in the development of ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 45003:2021 and other standards.
- As part of our organisational strategy, IOSH has six priorities. Sustainability and human capital is one. This also demonstrates our commitment, capacity, and capability to the subject matter.
- To promote awareness and enhance efforts in sustainability, the IOSH membership’s Competency Framework is inclusive of sustainability.
- In addition to our advocacy for health and safety, we have our own good arrangements in place at IOSH for health and safety, procurement, labour relations and human resources with mechanisms to raise and address concerns.
Labour (Principles 3 – 6)
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
- As outlined under Principle 1, IOSH advocates for the decent work agenda and protection of workers.
- As outlined under Principle 2, IOSH has advocated and continues to advocate for an end to modern slavery and offences of human trafficking, slavery, forced labour and domestic servitude. Victims are people from all and ages, and we recognise its prevalence in the most vulnerable and socially excluded minority groups.
- IOSH supports workers and employer organisations in their efforts to ensure and promote greater protection of workers at their workplaces through sound collective bargaining and social dialogue practices.
Principle 4: Businesses should uphold the elimination of forced or compulsory labour.
- IOSH calls for the eradication of all forms of modern slavery and forced labour. As outlined in Principle 2, IOSH’s work on modern slavery and human trafficking provides our stance and an overview of key actions taken to-date, which continues and is aligned with our messaging on health and safety as a fundamental right, calls for decent work, sustainability, human capital and our supply chain content.
- We have called for the adoption and implementation of international labour standards (conventions and recommendations) and the other instruments on occupational safety and health (codes of practice and guidelines) that aim at ensuring and promoting safe and healthy workplaces.
Principle 5: Businesses should uphold the effective abolition of child labour.
- IOSH wants to see the abolition of child labour. IOSH’s work on modern slavery and human trafficking. This is also covered in our September 2019 white paper, Tackling modern slavery together: the roles of governments, employers, professionals and the public.
Principle 6: Businesses should uphold the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
- We are active in our consultations, providing advocacy, thought leadership and policy positions that seek to drive change within legislation and standards worldwide, related to occupational safety and health, the protection of workers and in relation to the health and safety professional. Recent examples include, the UK Government Work, Health and Disability White Paper, which identified the occupational health and safety practitioner role in creating healthy and inclusive workplaces, upskilling workers, and so on. Also, a Women’s Health consultation, which highlighted impacts and risks within the workplace and proposed action to take, and thus elimination of discrimination.
- We support the International Social Security Association (ISSA) Vision Zero programme and have co-developed an important Vision Zero training package focusing on prevention of work related accidents, harm and occupational diseases.
- We believe that there should not be discrepancies between permanent employees and non-permanent workers in employers’ measures to safeguard their safety, health and wellbeing, and have therefore called for, raised awareness for, and advocated for the protection of gig workers and workers in the informal economy.
- Our Board has committed to an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) framework which incorporates an holistic view of ED&I and how it can be implemented corporately by IOSH as the employer, within the Institution, and in the wider profession. Work within ED&I will cut across all of IOSH activity as it is implemented, and our practices mature.
Environment (Principles 7 – 9)
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.
- IOSH recommends organisations take action that benefits individuals, organisations, communities and society by ensuring a person-centred approach which considers all terms of corporate sustainability covering financial, environmental, social and ethical risks and opportunities.
- IOSH is committed to the UN SDGs and UN Global Compact, which includes action that supports a precautionary approach to environmental challenges. Corporately in March 2021 our Board of Trustees has approved IOSH’s commitments to corporate sustainability, goals and objectives, which includes environmental objectives and a Goal for ‘reducing negative environmental impact, enhancing positive impact and opportunities’.
Principle 8: Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.
- As outlined in Principle 7, IOSH is committed to the UN SDGs and UN Global Compact and have Board commitments in place, which continue to be actioned both corporately and externally with our stakeholders. The commitment to the environment aligns to the voluntary adoption of an environmental management system and environmental objectives.
- As part of our forthcoming campaign, aligned to the UN SDGs, information and calls to action will be positioned around health and safety, sustainable employers, communities, and society. It will also focus on specific areas like climate action and health and safety.
Principle 9: Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
- IOSH advocacy in relation to new and emerging technologies, calls for risk-based consideration, and socially responsible adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. We believe that before any AI-enabled devices or systems are introduced into a workplace, a thorough OSH assessment and review should be performed.
- A people-centred approach is pivotal when it comes to integrating AI and automation technologies into workplaces. We argue for human-centred AI and keeping ‘humans in the loop’ systems, where OSH professionals can provide their expertise in the design and implementation phase of a technological development.
- As outlined in Principle 7, corporately commitments are in place for sustainable development which include environmental action and the consideration of aspects and impacts within our operational delivery.
Anti-corruption (Principle 10)
Principle 10: Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.
- IOSH advocates for public reporting which promotes a commitment to transparency, responsible and ethical business practices. IOSH was involved with the development of GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018, and as founding members of the Centre for Safety & Health Sustainability (CSHS), providing leadership for safety and health, shaping sustainability policies, corporate disclosure, human capital, and ‘putting people back into sustainability’ as part of a Global Summit in 2019. IOSH is active in global consultation opportunities and has provided many observations, recommendations, advocacy and thought leadership on non-financial reporting and making human rights and due diligence mandatory. Recent examples include: the European Commission review of non-financial reporting directive (June 2020), GRI global sustainability standards board consultation on draft work programme (June 2020), the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) (September 2020), UN Business and Human Rights (November 2020), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) conceptual frameworks, rules and procedure, IFRS on sustainability reporting (December 2020), Financial Reporting Council (FRC) (January 2021), SASB human capital research project (February 2021), the European Commission on sustainable corporate governance (February 2021), the European Commission Impact assessment proposal for a Revision of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (July 2021), the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark’s methodology review (June 2021), and the EIB Group's Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework (August 2021). The transparency and disclosure by organisations is an important part of ensuring human rights, and working against all forms of corruption.
- Corporately we have our own Anti-bribery Policy.