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Companies Must Embrace Safety to be Sustainable, ASSE Official Notes at Chicago Launch of New Center

Posted in on Thu, Jun 23, 2011

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                            Contact:  Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413       

CHICAGO, IL  (June 24, 2011)  — American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Vice President of Professional Affairs’ Thomas F. Cecich, CSP, CIH, of Apex, North Carolina,  told ASSE Professional Development Conference (PDC) and Exposition attendees in Chicago recently that safety should play a much bigger role in the sustainability movement. Cecich noted, “S ustainability is here to stay — it’s not a fad or a passing trend. In fact, sustainability already is embedded in the financial community and is being driven by investment organizations. Safety professionals, however, still need to find their place in this movement.”

ASSE Launches new Center for Safety & Health Sustainability

ASSE's VP Tom Cecich Launches Center for Safety & Health Sustainability

Cecich is one of the driving forces behind the new Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) launched last week at the record-breaking ASSE PDC and Exposition at McCormick Place in Chicago. The Center is a global collaborative effort among ASSE, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the U.K.-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Based in Des Plaines, IL, it will provide safety and health professionals with a voice in defining how safety and health contribute to the long- term sustainability of organizations. The Center is also an organizational stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting framework.  

“We need to step up and enter into this discussion of sustainability,” Cecich told safety professionals. “Our message ought to be: ‘Whatever claim an organization wants to make about being sustainable, they can’t do it unless they’re safe.’”

Cecich noted that today safety is not a significant part of the sustainability debate. “We want to change that,” he said. On June 13 the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability was launched.

GRI is working to ensure that more companies report sustainability information in their annual reports, as a first step. GRI’s mission is to make sustainability reporting standard practice by providing guidance and support to organizations. The most current, guidelines were released in March and can be accessed at  http://www.globalreporting.org/ReportingFramework/G31Guidelines/ . GRI finds that internationally, about 45 percent of reporting comes from Europe, 14 percent from North America and 14 percent from South America. They are now working on the next round of guidelines, G4, where ASSE’s CSHS will be involved.

“The case to be made for safety and health as an integral part of organizational sustainability is a compelling one,” ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, said.  “Every year more than two million people die worldwide from occupational accidents or work-related diseases, and there are several million more cases of non-fatal occupational accidents and diseases – yet, worker safety and health plays a relatively small role in defining business sustainability today. We need to act now.”

The Center 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. To meet this goal, the Center is developing a ‘Safety and Health Sustainability Reporting Framework’.  It will also 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 CSHS, we can standardize and improve the transparency of reporting on safety and health performance metrics,” Cecich said. “The ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses.”

Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For more information please go to http://www.centershs.org/  or www.asse.org/newsroom.

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Contact Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413, dhurns@asse.org



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