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OSHA: Worker health and safety should be an integral part of sustainability efforts

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today released a white paper, Sustainability in the Workplace: A New Approach for Protecting Worker Safety and Health, highlighting the importance of including worker safety and health in the growing movement toward sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Sustainability strives to balance social, environmental, and economic considerations to achieve long term success and viability. Responsible firms currently embrace the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit to achieve sustainability goals. While these efforts have mostly focused on environmental issues, such as resource usage and emissions reductions, attention is now turning to other aspects of sustainability, including occupational safety and health (OSH).

“It is clear that more and more businesses are building the concept of sustainability into their operations,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “We believe the next innovation is integrating worker safety and health into these sustainability strategies.”

The paper highlights ways in which sustainability can be leveraged to reimagine and identify innovative approaches for advancing safety and health, which include:

  • Creating new partnerships to support integrated OSH and sustainability activities;
  • Enhancing interdisciplinary training and education for workers, the OSH community and business professionals;
  • Measuring the impact of safety and health performance on business outcomes;
  • Recognizing employers that successfully integrate OSH into sustainability efforts; and
  • Improving access to data on safety and health for sustainability reporting.

These are only a small fraction of the opportunities that exist. Further engagement between OSHA, the OSH community, and the sustainability community can help identify new pathways for promoting a culture of safety and achieving a workplace that is truly sustainable.

For more information, and to download the paper, please visit http://www.osha.gov/sustainability.

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