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Safety professionals will show the world how it's done

This initiative within the global safety community started two years ago with the establishment of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) — a joint effort by the ASSE, the American Industrial Hygiene Association and United Kingdom’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

The CSHS was formed to give the safety community a single voice in the global marketplace, and has already made headway in the efforts to raise the profile of safety in sustainability talks.

The CSHS aims to represent the international safety community in a working group being formed by the GRI. This working group will be tasked to make recommendations metrics for occupational health and safety performance, which will become part of the new version of the GRI framework for sustainability reporting.

The Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) is also getting involved in this global initiative. CSSE president Peter Sturm tells Canadian Occupational Safety the association has already submitted an application to be part of the 15-person GRI working group. We will know within the next few weeks if Canada made it to the list.

“I think health and safety metrics are one of the best indicators of performance, because you can’t have a good health and safety program and not be successful in your business,” Sturm says.

Over the last decade, the number of organizations that embraced sustainability and corporate social responsibility has grown dramatically from only 26 in 1992 to more than 3,000 in 2008. In the United States, about 12 per cent of investments relate to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Out of the 600 global corporations using the GRI framework for sustainability reporting, 16 are Canadian companies, Sturm says.

The active involvement of the Canadian safety community — and the international safety community, for that matter — raises the profile of the safety professional in the international scene. Such a concerted effort signals to the world safety professionals are thought leaders in their field.

And they are.

In my more than 15 years as a journalist, I have not encountered a group of audience as passionate, dedicated and engaged as the health and safety professionals. It’s this passion that got the attention of the GRI in the first place. Health and safety is one of only four items for revision the GRI is taking up this year.

There is no better group of people to have working on this sustainability framework for performance measurement than the safety professionals. The metrics they will put to the table will be effective, justifiable measures of safety performance of an organization. And will take health and safety to the forefront of every organization's sustainability initiatives.

This not only raises the bar higher for corporate social responsibility reporting, but also recognizes the health and safety profession as thought leaders and change agents in the global business community.

Mari-Len De Guzman

Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and
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