Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

IOSH advocates OSH beyond minimum compliance in the CSR and sustainability agenda to improve performance and save lives. We believe stronger linkage between OSH and CSR and sustainability can help ensure that OSH is viewed more strategically and positively and that standards are raised worldwide.

Health and safety professionals have a leading role to play in building sustainable workforces within sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening reputation, resilience and results.

The facts

  • Britain has a 200-year history of OSH in CSR, first enshrined in law with the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act 1802.
  • There are a number of well-known brand names that had their origins in Britain’s philanthropic business leaders of the past.
  • The IOSH vision is a safer and healthier world of work and we were pleased to make the case for OSH as a material reporting issue in 2003 and to co-found the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) in 2011.
  • The terms CSR and sustainability are often used interchangeably and in recent years Government and other stakeholder interest in this area has grown considerably.
  • Drivers include increased globalisation, extended enterprises, 24/7 communication and social media.
  • Also, increased stakeholder demand for transparency and accountability, leading to growth in corporate reporting requirements; ‘best of’ rankings; and ethical investment.
  • Enlightened self-interest and reputation management is leading more firms to engage in (and report on) socially responsible activities.
  • This includes a desire to be competitive, to retain a social license to operate and to provide assurance to stakeholders.
  • Global developments include the UN’s Guiding principles on business and human rights and its reporting framework and the Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • UK developments include narrative reporting requirements, BIS guidance on implementing the UN guiding principles and the statutory guidance for the Modern Slavery Act 2015 transparency in supply chains clause.   

Our position

  • IOSH advocates OSH beyond minimum compliance in the CSR and sustainability agenda to improve performance and save lives.
  • IOSH believes that better managed businesses thrive, contributing more to and benefitting more from, healthy and sustainable economies and societies.
  • While, in contrast; it is socially irresponsible and unsustainable for workers to be killed and disabled at work, squandering human talent and damaging our future.
  • We believe going beyond legal compliance on OSH is essential for a sustainable workforce in a globalised world in which there are extended, complex and sometimes unregulated supply chains.”
  • We take the view that stronger linkage between OSH and CSR and sustainability can help ensure OSH is viewed more strategically and positively and that standards are raised worldwide.
  • IOSH supports supply chain transparency so that stakeholders can see what actions organisations are taking to prevent modern slavery, protect human rights and create a ‘race to the top’.
  • IOSH has emphasised the benefits of this to the EU and global economies in helping to ensure a sustainable workforce and future.
  • We stress that many of the health challenges, including healthy ageing and extended working lives, are long-term and affected by decisions made today.
  • We use the example of ‘long-latency’ health conditions – where exposure today leads to long-term societal costs; while action to prevent disease and promote health and wellbeing leads to future societal gains.
  • We point out that the ‘big global challenges’ (economic, demographic, social, technological and environmental) rely on socially responsible employers and governments and skilled and effective workers, for their successful resolution.
  • IOSH believes health and safety professionals have a leading role to play in building sustainable workforces within sustainable organisations for a sustainable world – protecting life and limb and strengthening reputation, resilience and results.
  • IOSH supports the CSHS work programme and seeks to promote the use of improved and standardised OSH metrics within combined reports (see CSHS guide).
  • IOSH provides a number of free tools to help organisations develop skills in this area (see Books and resources) and the IOSH Blueprint competence and skills framework.

Relevant IOSH consultation responses