CSHS: Sustainability Reporting Schemes Need Consistent Metrics for OHS

Published August 2, 2017
A new report (PDF) released yesterday by the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) calls on the leading sustainability reporting organizations to develop standardized terms, definitions, and reporting formats for occupational health and safety metrics. The report focuses on a study of 100 corporations identified as sustainable by the Corporate Knights and compares the results to a similar study CSHS conducted in 2013. The new study found little improvement in reporting of compliance with safety and health performance indicators, and noted that few companies reported on leading indicators recommended by CSHS.

For the new study, CSHS analyzed data on OHS performance indicators collected from publicly available information and evaluated the companies’ OHS reporting practices against the Global Reporting Initiative’s sustainability reporting framework and against criteria developed by CSHS. This analysis found several different definitions of key terms like “worker” and “absentee.” Companies also used different formulas to calculate absentee rate.

“We’ve learned through our two studies that voluntary sustainability reporting lacks rigor and fails to yield the meaningful data needed to effectively evaluate corporate safety and health performance,” said Kathy A. Seabrook, chair of the CSHS Board of Directors, in a press release. “The disclosure of data needs to be standardized to help put companies on a truly holistic path to sustainability that recognizes the well-being of workers along with the environment.”

The report recommended that sustainability reporting frameworks identify indicators related to OHS management systems, indicators that measure OHS performance in the supply chain, specific formulas to be used in reporting data, and simplified definitions of key terms.

CSHS is a joint effort of AIHA, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (CSSE), and the Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). For more information about CSHS, read “Reintroducing the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability” on SynergistNOW.