Study reveals need for improved corporate reporting

04 August 2017

A study into corporate reporting practices for occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities demonstrates “continued weakness and the need to improve reporting”, says the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).


A new report, The Need for Standardized Sustainability Reporting Practices, has been released by the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) following its study into the reporting by organisations listed on the Corporate Knights Global 100 – those it judged the most sustainable in the world.

It follows a similar study in 2013, with the CSHS concluding that both show corporate reporting on health and safety lacks rigour.

The new report analysed publicly-reported data between June and December 2016, identifying changes in reporting practices over the past four years related to occupational safety and health sustainability.

It showed little improvement between these lists of ‘sustainable corporations’ in complying with common safety and health performance indicators. The study found high variability on data collection methodology, reporting formats, and terms and definitions used in reporting.

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH, said:

“IOSH advocates meaningful and comparable reporting on occupational safety and health (OSH) as a driver to improved performance and is pleased to support the CSHS guidance on this.

“We believe the CSHS 2013 research findings into the reporting practices of the Corporate Knights ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations’ and this follow-up CSHS study showing continued weakness, both highlight the need to improve reporting and increase consistency.”

IOSH is a founding member of CSHS, whose member organisations represent more than 100,000 workplace safety and health professionals around the world.

Richard added:

“IOSH believes it’s important that the global reporting culture improves and that sustainability indexes, reporting standards, investors, regulators and OSH professionals all promote effective OSH management and standardised reporting as key to transparency and sustainable business.”

The CSHS goal is for organisations to incorporate worker safety and health as part of their sustainable business practices – with safety and health performance indicators allowing companies to compare themselves and better understand where to improve.

The report calls for the adoption of two key indicators on occupational safety and health management systems – tracking how many of a company’s work locations implement such systems, and how many are audited by an independent third party. CSHS also suggests that businesses measure workplace safety and health in their supply chains. One sustainability leader reported no employee fatalities, but did report 27 deaths in its supply chain.

Kathy Seabrook, Chair of the CSHS Board of Directors, said:

“We’ve learned through our two studies that voluntary sustainability reporting lacks rigour and fails to yield the meaningful data needed to effectively evaluate corporate safety and health performance.

“The disclosure of data needs to be standardised to help put companies on a truly holistic path to sustainability that recognises the well-being of workers along with the environment.”

“Understanding more fully these challenges brings us closer to CSHS’s goals.”

IOSH has done a large amount of work in the area of sustainability and corporate reporting. Some of its suggested reporting areas were included in the new EU Non-Financial Reporting Guidelines.

And, as part of IOSH’s work to support businesses to improve corporate OSH reporting, it recently contributed to the OSH content of the Global Reporting Initiative new standard on sustainability reporting, which is due for consultation from 10 August to 9 October 2017 (watch the IOSH website for further details).

IOSH is also holding a multi-stakeholder panel debate on improving the visibility of ‘social footprints’ at IOSH 2017 at Birmingham ICC (21 November 2017). To pose a question to the panel, please send it to

Image: Kathy Seabrook, Chair of the CSHS Board of Directors, said the report showed voluntary sustainability reporting lacks rigour

Notes for editors

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the world’s leading chartered professional body for people responsible for safety and health in the workplace. We have more than 47,000 members in about 130 countries.

We act as a champion, adviser, advocate and trainer for safety and health professionals working in organisations of all sizes. Our focus is to support our members in their efforts to create workplaces that are safer, healthier and more sustainable.

Our shared objective is a world where work is safe and healthy for every working person, every day. Through our 2017-2022 strategy, ‘WORK 2022 – shaping the future of safety and health’, we will seek to enhance the occupational safety and health profession, build strategic collaborative partnerships across industry and strengthen our influence globally through impactful research and development.

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