Louise Wustemann

How does health and safety fit into the company’s sustainability program? Louis Wustemann, health and safety writer, publisher and speaker, is presenting a symposium next month to try to find out.

The responsibility of companies to show purpose beyond simply creating shareholder value is a hot topic. Net-zero emissions targets, the long tail of the pandemic, and public disillusionment with politicians and the media that sees many people calling their employers more trustworthy than the administration; all this creates a context in which the social and environmental references of organizations are increasingly important. But where does health and safety management fit into the company’s sustainability agenda? It’s one of the questions delegates will explore at a symposium later this month. The People Sustainability: The Future summit aims to examine how OSH contributes to companies providing social good and its place in human capital management.

The day of presentations, panel discussions and workshops will take place at County Hall, the former seat of government in London, on December 1. Organized by beauty products group L’Oréal, safety charity RoSPA and sustainability umbrella group Capitals Coalition, the summit builds on a previous event organized by L’Oréal in Paris in 2019 when representatives from the investment community, OSH specialists and agencies specializing in ESG ratings came together to discuss the place of safety and health in social sustainability.

Influencing ESG

Kathy Seabrook is an Ambassador for the Capitals Coalition and Chair of its Human Capital in Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Project Group. She will chair a panel discussion on the role of health and safety in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) agenda, which shapes stock market investing and corporate pressure on supply chain standards.

“What we’re going to do is help attendees really understand how human capital, sustainability, and occupational safety and health are linked,” says Kathy. “On the panel we’ll have three company representatives and Jennifer McNelly, CEO of the American Society of Safety Professionals. We want this to be in the real world, so the questions we’re asking are ‘How is this operationalized? In your company, what do you see as the role of the occupational safety and health professional in the context of sustainability, ESG and CSR? [corporate social responsibility]?’”

She says the event will also look at the language issue; the taxonomies used in ESG and OHS are “worlds apart, but we are really talking about the same thing. It’s as simple as impacts and risks are the same thing.

The event will see the launch of a report sponsored by L’Oréal and studied by ERM consultants which will include an analysis of how the environmental elements of ESG relate to social aspects, in particular health and safety. Kathy says the report will examine questions such as: “What is the impact of climate change on workers? What impact does this have on communities? their health and well-being? When you think about respiratory ailments or access to clean water to drink in arid climates that are going to increase with the changes we have. How does this even impact their safety in some cases? Because you are considering natural disasters.

“All of these things are interconnected and the document aims to help all stakeholders understand why people and planet matter and that we need to do what we can to mitigate risk,” she adds.

On the road

Karen McDonnell is an Occupational Health and Safety Policy Advisor at RoSPA. She will chair another roundtable at the summit focusing on one of the most dangerous activities that most organizations ask employees to undertake: driving. She notes that 1.3 million people die each year in traffic accidents.

Dr Karen Mcdonell Occupational Health and Safety Policy Advisor at RoSPA.

“That’s why we should talk about road safety,” she said of the roundtable. “It’s about seeing road safety as something from the moment you get in the vehicle, whether you’re driving for work or not, an individual property in a work context. It’s about articulating the conversation so that people who drive for you recognize their impact on other road users, that it’s a shared space. We explained that this is a safety-critical job and that road safety is a life skill. »

She says road risk illustrates how the different strands of sustainability are linked, quoting construction engineering specialists Jacobs’ slogan that “the safest mile is the mile not traveled”, and putting the emphasis on virtual meetings and remote work when possible.

“You start to think about the value of not driving,” she says, citing the environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions. “Governments are more and more interested in it; the scottish government has set a target of 20% per year to reduce car miles traveled by 2030. they recognize the benefits of more people who will not suffer from asthma, safer spaces.

She says the summit’s emphasis on valuing and protecting employees as human capital aligns with RoSPA’s mission: “We take a holistic approach to life and the person. Things happen to people throughout their lives and for much of that time they are in a place – at work – that should provide them with good work and that matters to their health and safety. Freedom from danger is an important objective.

What does she hope the summit will accomplish? “It will be great for getting a cohort of people to speak the same language, and then we can reap the rewards as people return to their individual spheres of influence.”

Kathy agrees. “They will reflect on this intersectionality between human capital, sustainability and OSH. And what kind of conversations do we need to start having with our senior leaders? What do these discussions look like that will impact senior management decision-making on health, safety and the environment? »

You can sign up for event updates by clicking here.

Related Topics

About The Author

Related Posts