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Working together to achieve a shared vision

Date posted
25 July 2023
Ruth Wilkinson
Estimated reading time
4 minute read

As part of its drive towards making the world of work safe, healthy and sustainable, IOSH works closely with a number of large global firms and like-minded bodies. Head of Policy Ruth Wilkinson looks at the reasons behind this and how it aligns with IOSH’s vision of a safe and healthy world of work.

To realise our vision of a safe and healthy world of work, we need to drive action from everyone who can influence and prioritise OSH standards globally. This requires a systematic approach with many actors playing their part; from Governments, policymakers and decision-makers to standard-setters, businesses and investors, and so on.

The role of OSH in social sustainability

One area of strategic importance and commitment to IOSH is championing the role of OSH in social sustainability. We do this in many ways, including as a participant in the United Nations’ Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and through our Catch the Wave campaign.

In addition, we contribute to consultations and participate in external meetings where we advocate and influence on matters of OSH and worker wellbeing within social sustainability, and we provide tools to our members and others to support awareness and implementation.

IOSH believes that social sustainability is the backbone of resilience, and that OSH is fundamental to building and maintaining work, workforces, supply chains and communities that are all sustainable.

In a nutshell, businesses should put people first and recognise the value of their workers. For that reason, IOSH encourages businesses to adopt forward-looking, long-term strategies and broader measures of social sustainability and human capital value.

What this looks like at corporate level

In its latest impact report, sportswear giant Nike, Inc reported a 47 per cent reduction in lost-time injury rates over a three-year period.

This was one of many highlights in its 2022 report, showcasing how the firm is performing against its targets. But it’s one which really stands out as it reflects the significant investment made towards improving OSH throughout its business and supply chain.

IOSH has been closely involved with the Nike approach, successfully piloting a programme with its largest supplier groups to support company leaders with ensuring the effectiveness of safety governance and leadership. This was pinpointed in the impact report, as was the use of IOSH’s competency framework as a tool to developing its internal health and safety team and those in its supply chain.

This joint work means the many thousands of people employed by Nike, Inc and those who work in its supply chains are better protected through good health and safety leadership and management. And we plan to continue to collaborate closely with them going forward.

To achieve results like this are one of the reasons why IOSH works with big business. We’re really starting to see the benefits of over five years associated with Nike, Inc. Through the IOSH model of safety, we are building OSH capacity, leadership and culture and empowering their own people who can then lead the way in preventing and managing risks and reducing harm in factories and other workplaces around the world through their supply chain.

We’re undertaking similar work with other big firms, such as information and communications technology giant Fujitsu.

While we are working initially with leaders within these large corporates, the impact of this work feeds down proportionally into much smaller organisations, those in supply chains and the people around the globe who work for them.

Building for a safer, healthier future

Such joint working was born out of IOSH’s previous strategy, WORK 2022, a pillar of which was a focus on collaborations, recognising that we couldn’t make a real difference around the world on our own.

Along with the work with large corporates which, as I said, naturally extends down through their supply chains in many parts of the world, we have fostered partnerships with global bodies such as the International Labour Organization, World Health Organization, and International Social Security Association.

Guided by our newly-launched strategy, Activate 2028, we will continue to develop these partnerships and develop new ones with a view to making a real difference to people on the ground. For example, we will seek to support smaller organisations and to have an impact within non-OSH agendas and, as a result, continue to raise the OSH profile and action. And that’s where it really counts: we don’t want to just talk about safer and healthier workplaces; we want to oversee action which improves the lives and prospects of working people.

Sadly, 7,500 people around the world still die every day because of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions. We cannot and should not accept this.

Whether it’s with a huge multinational business such as Nike, Inc or a small supply chain factory, everyone who is working for them has a right to a safe and healthy work environment, as was recognised by the International Labour Organization last year.

That’s what we will continue to advocate for and make a reality for all workers – and we all have a role to play in creating safe, healthy, sustainable workplaces.

Last updated: 31 January 2024

Ruth Wilkinson

Job role
Head of Policy and Public Affairs


  • Strategy and influence
  • Together we can make a real difference
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  • Time to tackle “plague” of work accidents and ill health