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OSH sustainability and OSH policy position

Summary

Social issues such as occupational safety and health (OSH), wellbeing, human capital and relationships are increasingly recognised as central to sustainability and integral to environmental protection and economic prosperity.

Well-managed organisations thrive, contributing more to and benefiting more from, healthy and sustainable economies and societies.

A stronger linkage between OSH and sustainability can help ensure that OSH is viewed more strategically. The OSH profession has a leading role in building sustainable workforces in sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening human capital, reputation, resilience and results.

The successful resolution of big global challenges (socio-economic, demographic, technological and environmental) relies on long-term strategies and skills and effective workers. Their safety, health and wellbeing must be properly safeguarded.

IOSH champions OSH and people in sustainability and supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those on health and wellbeing and preventing pandemics, ensuring decent work and tackling inequalities.

The facts

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that each year 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases and an additional 374 million workers suffer non-fatal work accidents.
  • Supporting its vision of a safe and healthy world of work and the benefits of transparency, IOSH made the case for OSH as material to reports in 2003 and co-founded the Center for Safety & Health Sustainability (CSHS) in 2011.
  • OSH and sustainability are promoted through IOSH’s global Manifesto Towards a safe and healthy world of work.
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in 2015 and have direct and indirect connections to OSH.
  • Enlightened self-interest and reputation management are leading more firms to engage in (and report on) socially responsible activities, human capital and relationships.
  • IOSH has played a key role in highlighting OSH in sustainability reporting through the development of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018.
  • Other global developments include the UN Guiding principles on business and human rights and its reporting framework, Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Reporting Exchange, a global resource for sustainability reporting.
  • Relevant international standards include ISO 45001 on OSH management systems and on guidance such as ISO 26000 on social responsibility, ISO 20400 on sustainable procurement and ISO 27500 on human-centred organisations.
  • Since 2018 in the EU, companies covered by laws resulting from EU Directive 2014/95/EU must report on non-financial matters such as environmental, social and employee-related issues.

Our position

Organisations and communities worldwide cannot be sustainable without good OSH – social issues such as OSH are integral to environmental protection and economic prosperity. As a result, there is increased investor and stakeholder demand for companies to report on and improve OSH. Organisations should go beyond minimum OSH compliance in the sustainability agenda, recognising the benefits to individuals, employers and communities of delivering long-term societal value and the UN SDGs.

The protection of workers’ safety, health and wellbeing can motivate workforces, enhance business reputation and reduce business risk. Well-managed organisations thrive, contributing more to and benefiting more from healthy and sustainable economies and societies. As OSH becomes more integral to the sustainability agenda in business, it will be seen increasingly as a source of new ideas to promote innovation and growth

IOSH believes that stronger linkage between OSH 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 champions OSH and people in sustainability and supports delivery of the SDGs. We promote the leading role of OSH professionals in building sustainable workforces in sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening human capital, reputation, resilience and results.

IOSH resources

Guides and online tools:

Consultation responses:


Relates resources