Although sustainability has been traditionally associated with environmental activities, there is a growing movement to expand the definition to incorporate occupational safety and health.
The Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council recently released a white paper, Profiles in Sustainability: Business, Community, and Environment, describing how member companies are integrating occupational safety and health into their overall sustainability planning.
The report defines sustainability to include a corporate responsibility not only to the planet but also to an organization's people by protecting worker health and safety, and to profitability by ensuring a viable business for many years to come.
Companies profiled are the AES Corporation, Cummins, FCA Group, ISN, The Mosaic Company, Owens Corning, United Rentals, and USG.
According to the report, the commonalities among these organizations regarding sustainability exist in five areas:
1. Defining sustainability according to a “triple bottom line” approach of people, planet, and profit.
2. Using recognized standards to report on sustainability, such as the Global Reporting Initiative.
3. Expressing a need for calculating more and better metrics for return on sustainability efforts.
4. Finding better leading metrics for sustainability and more ways to correlate environmental sustainability with occupational safety.
5. Developing aspirational yet attainable sustainability goals.
Safety and health professionals can use the information in the report to define, drive, measure, and report their own sustainability efforts.