Corporate health and safety reporting needs significant improvement
A study into corporate reporting practices for occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities demonstrates “continued weakness and the need to improve reporting”, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said.
The 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.
“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 wellbeing of workers along with the environment.”