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Safety practitioners to take part in sustainability talks with launch of new centre

By Mari-Len De Guzman
Darryl Hill, ASSE President

At this week's American Society of Safety Engineers Professional Development Conference and Exposition, the new Centre for Safety and Health in Sustainability was launched as a venue for safety professionals to offer their inputs on the development of corporate sustainability among organizations.

CHICAGO — In a bid to provide health and safety professionals a “voice” in shaping the long-term sustainability of organizations, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have collaborated to form the new Center for Safety and Health in Sustainability.

Launched at the ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exposition, happening in this city this week, the Center for Safety and Health in Sustainability (CSHS) will provide new insights into the measurement, management and impact of safety and health sustainability, with the goal of being a recognized thought-leader for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, according to a statement from the ASSE.

In addition to its launch, the CSHS was also recognized as an organizational stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative — a network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.

“The case to be made for safety and health as an integral part of organizational sustainability is a compelling one,” said ASSE president Darryl Hill. “Every year, more than two million people die worldwide from occupational accidents or work-related diseases, and there are several millions more cases of non-fatal occupational accidents and diseases — yet, work safety and health play a relatively small role in defining business sustainability today. We need to act now.”

IOSH president Steve Granger welcomed the new centre saying this development shows the three organizations working together to improve the lives of people affected by work.

“Sustainability is now firmly placed on the corporate agenda and, in fact, we view the protection of the workforce as a key part of what it involves,” Granger said.

The centre will develop a Safety and Health Sustainability Reporting Framework and educate the business community on the importance of safety in good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.

The hope is to standardize and improve the transparency of reporting on safety and health performance metrics, according to Thomas Cecich, ASSE vice-president of the Council on Professional Affairs.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses,” said Cecich.

For his part, AIHA executive director Peter O’Neil said the collaboration among his association, the ASSE and IOSH will “greatly add to the depth of our industry, promoting businesses to focus on protecting worker health and safety while addressing policies which encompasses global sustainability.”

The ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exposition is taking place at the McCormick Place Convention Centre in this city from June 12 to 15. It features more than 250 educational sessions and close to 500 exhibitors, breaking last year’s record of just over 400 exhibitors. This year’s event also marks the ASSE’s 100th year anniversary.

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