OSHA's new white paper, "Sustainability in the Workplace: A New Approach for Protecting Worker Safety and Health," furthers the work of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) by recognizing the sustainability framework as "a unique opportunity to advance OSH."
"Workplace safety and health standards and their enforcement can have a huge impact on workers’ lives—but the OSHA standard setting process is slow and even full compliance with standards will not prevent all work injuries and illnesses," the agency explains in the preface. "There is much untapped potential to leverage other movements that are big, proactive, diverse in audience and stakeholders, future-thinking, and innovative to advance worker safety and health. Sustainability is one such movement that provides the potential to go beyond the agency’s traditional role and become a transformative force."
Among other issues, the white paper examines lessons learned in areas of sustainability activity, and makes note of CSHS's work to focus greater attention on establishing common metrics, standardized reporting practices and the emergence of OSH as a material issue for organizations and their investors. ASSP and its partners, AIHA, Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, founded CSHS to encourage organizations to consider the safety, health and well-being of workers, customers and the community as part of their sustainable business practice. OSHA's recognition that sustainability can provide a platform from which to improve worker safety and health will help advance those efforts.
Originally published Jan. 9, 2017.