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New Center for Safety and Health Sustainability to be launched at the Safety 2011 – Organizational stakeholder relationship with GRI to be announced


The new Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, a collaborative effort among ASSE, AIHA and IOSH, will be launched on Monday, June 13th at 4:00 PM at the PDC. The Center is an organizational stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting framework. Mike Wallace, the Director of GRI’s Focal Point USA, will be attending the launch and presenting at the conference.

The Center came about after it became apparent that safety professionals were in need of a voice in the shaping of sustainability policies. It will provide new insights into the measurement, management, and impact of safety and health sustainability, with the goal of being a recognized thought leader for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It will seek to educate the business community on the importance of safety in good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.  The hope is that, through the work of the Center, all organizations will recognize their responsibility to protect the health and well-being of workers, customers, and neighboring communities in any business practices, operations, or development.

GRI’s vast experience in sustainability reporting and their existing network of stakeholders will allow the Center to work toward a standardized framework for measuring and reporting safety and health performance. ASSE is also a stakeholder of GRI and was recently recognized as an example of how associations can work with GRI to advance sustainability issues.

From GRI’s Global Organizational Stakeholder Newsletter:

1. Why did you decide to become a GRI Organizational Stakeholder?

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is an association whose members manage, supervise, and consult on safety, health, and environmental issues in industry, insurance, government, and education. ASSE spent two years collaborating with other safety and health organizations both in the US and abroad to find a way to develop and define the safety and health aspects of sustainability. These organizations include the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), whose members serve the needs of occupational and environmental health and safety professionals practicing industrial hygiene in industry, government, labor, academic institutions, and independent organizations; and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a United Kingdom-based safety and health practitioner organization. Collectively, they represent approximately 80,000 safety and health professionals around the world.

The culmination of these organizations’ efforts was the Center for Safety and Health in Sustainability. The Center has the primary goal of developing and defining safety and health as a vital part of sustainability, and also promoting it with the ultimate goal of improving the safety and health of workers worldwide. Working with GRI, which is the most widely known and respected sustainability reporting framework, was the natural next step. We recognized that GRI’s vast experience in sustainability reporting and their existing network of stakeholders would allow us to work toward a standardized framework for measurement and reporting safety and health sustainability/CSR performance.   

2. What are you most hoping to gain from the program?

We were troubled by the fact that more than 2.3 million people die from workplace injuries and illness every year, resulting in losses both tangible and intangible. The vision that ASSE, AIHA, IOSH, and ultimately, the Center, maintain is for all organizations to ensure that the protection of the safety, health, and well-being of workers, customers, and neighboring communities is among the primary considerations in any business practice, operation, or development. To work toward this end and in coordination with GRI, ASSE and its counterparts will advocate for a comprehensive and standardized approach to measuring not only lagging, but leading indicators of safety and health performance.   

3. What role can professional associations play in mainstreaming sustainability reporting?

Professional associations harness the power of all their members, including their members’ professional knowledge and business connections. They also serve as centralized media for thought production and possess the will to create initiatives such as the Center. ASSE and its counterparts in the professional association world are no different, and provide a direct line to precisely the audiences whose attention GRI needs in order to exact change and make sustainability reporting a normal aspect of organizational life.

We would like to offer our expertise in occupational safety and health as GRI creates the G4 Guidelines. We have developed a list of key safety and health performance indicators to encourage a comprehensive and standardized approach to measuring not only lagging, but leading indicators of safety and health. In developing our key performance indicators, we spent a great deal of time gathering and analyzing information on safety and health metrics. We are in the process of vetting these key safety and health sustainability performance indicators with other international safety and health organizations, corporations, and our broader stakeholder community. Specifically, we are working with INSHPO – a group of 14 international safety and health practitioner organizations representing eleven countries, including China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, the US, and Mauritius.