3 Safety Leading Indicators to Disclose in Sustainability Reports
Should safety leading indicators be included in sustainability reports? Sustainability reports for a long time were associated with environmental and energy metrics, such as water consumption, waste generation, recycling, use of renewable energy, etc. Sustainability was seen as having some overlap with the “E” of “EHS”.
But in recent years, there has been a greater realization that sustainability, since it represents the ideal of a continuity and endurance of resources, should also apply to occupational safety and health (OSH), i.e. the ongoing availability and well-being of workers free from safety or health problems.
The disclosure of OSH performance in sustainability reports has also been the focus of the Center for Safety & Health Sustainability (CSHS), an organization committed to advancing the safety and health sustainability of the global workplace, and a collaborative effort founded by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
Recently, CSHS published a report on The Need for Standardized Sustainability Reporting Practices . The report provides insight into how organizations considered “sustainable” currently publicly disclose information on occupational safety and health. The report also makes recommendations about leading indicators for safety that should be tracked and disclosed in sustainability or corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. We highlight these indicators in this post, so you can take them into consideration for a future sustainability or CSR report.
1) Work Locations That Implemented an OSH Management System
CSHS recommends two indicators around occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems. The first is the percentage of owned or leased work locations (manufacturing, production, or warehousing facilities) that have implemented an OSH management system that meets nationally or internationally recognized standards or guidelines.
2) Work Locations That Had Their OSH Management Systems Audited
The second indicator around OSH management systems is the percentage of owned or leased work locations (manufacturing, production, or warehousing facilities) that have had their OSH management systems audited by an independent third party.
CSHS says that the two leading indicators above are designed to measure whether systems are in place to effectively manage worker safety and health. The upcoming ISO 45001 standard will be the de facto global standard for OSH management systems, replacing OHSAS 18001.
3) Facilities of Suppliers Audited for Compliance with OSH Standards
CSHS also recommends that organizations identify one or more indicators that measure OSH performance in the supply chain. One such indicator from the report is the percentage of direct or first-tier suppliers’ facilities in developing countries that were audited for compliance with safety and health standards.
For CSHS, this leading indicator recognizes that workers for suppliers in developing countries are especially vulnerable to OSH risks. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the work-related mortality rate in developing countries is five to seven times higher than in industrialized countries. ILO research also found that accidents and illnesses are both increasing in the developing world. This proposed indicator would encourage reporters to audit their suppliers, thus helping to proactively promote safety, CSHS says.
Finally, even though leading indicators provide a better measure of occupational safety and health performance, it is still useful to also track lagging indicators, especially since they can be used to evaluate leading indicators.
If you’re interested in the topic of safety leading indicators in sustainability reports, you should learn more about the GRI Standard 403: Occupational Health and Safety, which is now under review. The GRI Standard is proposing its own set of health and safety leading indicators, namely the number of workers covered by a management system and how many have access to occupational health services.
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