July 18, 2017 / Alan Leibowitz

Reintroducing the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability

The Center for Safety and Health Sustainability is one of the most successful inter-association initiatives AIHA has ever joined, but until now we have flown a bit under the radar. The Center has been around since June 2011 when AIHA joined with ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) and IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) to form a team dedicated to establishing a leading role in the sustainability conversation for industrial hygiene and safety.

With the addition of the CSSE (Canadian Society of Safety Engineering) in 2013, the Center provides over 100,000 occupational safety and health professionals in over 70 countries a stronger voice in shaping sustainability policies. Our goals are:

  • to educate the business community on the importance of safety and health as part of good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility/sustainability
  • to provide new insights into the measurement, management, and impact of safety and health sustainability
  • to be a recognized thought leader for sustainability and corporate social responsibility

The Center had early success in working with the Corporate Knights, an organization that produces sustainability reports and rankings, in increasing awareness of OHS. We had a strong series of publications analyzing the OHS elements of financial and sustainability reporting along with a recommendation for metrics that should be included in any sustainability report.

All of that effort was prelude to the sea change taking place in 2017. First, we are publishing an update to our widely used reference “Current Practices in Occupational Health & Safety Sustainability Reporting.” This update identifies trends in including OHS that are both promising and of some concern.

Our most exciting recent news is the Center’s leadership role in establishing OHS front and center in the discussion of human capital​. CSHS has partnered with Harvard Law School, RobecoSAM, and BrownFlynn on a unique new study focused on the topic.

The project examined corporate disclosure of human capital policies and practices and outcomes, including those relating to OHS. It analyzed responses to the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an extensive survey of companies that drives the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the coming months a report will be released that expands on earlier work to encompass more occupational health and safety issues.

In March, the Center convened a workshop for key stakeholders to discuss preliminary findings with the Harvard researchers and to advance the conversation around disclosure of human capital policies and practices. Experts including corporate practitioners, asset owners and managers, specialized ESG research firms, standards-setting organizations, NGOs, and industry and professional associations from around the world discussed the latest sustainability trends, frameworks, standards, and disclosures, as well as how financial markets consider human capital in decision making.

These efforts now have real momentum. We anticipate great progress as the study is published and we continue to bring together the leaders who can make positive changes happen in this arena.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from the Center in the coming months.

Alan Leibowitz

Alan Leibowitz is the president of EHS Systems Solutions LLC​ and AIHA representative to the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability Board of Directors.


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