In 2015, all 193 United Nations (UN) member states signed up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which sets out a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The agenda is an ambitious project that pledges that “no one will be left behind” in the drive for sustainable global economic growth.  

Underpinning the agenda is a set of aims, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include ending hunger and poverty, providing decent work, ensuring sustainable consumption and that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. 

The SDGs are high-level aims for governments and international bodies, but business also has a critical part to play in achieving them. An IOSH review has identified the areas where occupational safety and health (OSH) management can contribute to meeting the goals and fulfilling the 2030 agenda. These areas are numerous; we believe that OSH has a role to play in meeting 51 of the 169 targets that support the SDGs; to 30 of these it can make a direct contribution. 

To provide an overview of where and how protecting workers and promoting their welfare and wellbeing can help advance the UN agenda, we have mapped the SDG targets to the elements of good OSH management. These are detailed in the sections below.  

As more organisations align their sustainability measurement and reporting to the SDGs, we believe highlighting these connections between OSH management and the SDG indicators may help them identify how their activities support the goals. 

The potential for helping to drive greater equality and prosperity through core OSH provision overlaps substantially with the contribution it can make to ensuring social sustainability, detailed in IOSH’s Catch the Wave campaign. Good OSH management is good for individuals, businesses and the wider world. 

OSH and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Delivering a sustainable future report

Check out our downloadable report to see how we've mapped elements of OSH management with targets underpinning the SDGs.

Download now

Back to top

Catch the Wave

Wave generation ebook

Our ebook explores the latest research to define a model for socially sustainable safety and health to help your business achieve stronger performance and growth

Download now


Social sustainability is not just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s the backbone of resilience. A business’s human capital is like any other form of capital – its value can rise as well as fall. Having good sustainability practices and setting high standards in your business for the treatment of your workforce, communities and supply chains will reward you with stronger performance and growth. 

Back to top

Bitesize learning

We've developed the following short online courses

Back to top

Case studies

Many organisations are already on the journey to a socially-sustainable future. Take a look at our case studies to see how they are putting this into action.


Harnessing the power of social sustainability

Our report illustrates the financial, ethical and sustainability benefits of businesses who invest in the safety and health of their workforce.

Download PDF 5.7 MB