Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Sustainability in the Workplace

Sustainability Spotlight

Organizations of all sizes across the country and around the world have embraced sustainability as a way to showcase their values, measure impacts and outcomes, and increase their competitive advantage. Sustainability Spotlight profiles recognize the practices, policies, research, partnerships, and case studies that exemplify or demonstrate the impact that can be made when worker safety and health is included in sustainability strategies. Together we can work toward an integrated vision of sustainability that protects the environment for future generations, ensures long-term economic viability, and allows all people to thrive.

Do you want to share your story? Email us at sustainability@dol.gov.

CSHS - Center for Safety & Health Sustainability

Center for Safety & Health Sustainability

CSHS provides over 100,000 occupational safety and health professionals in over 70 countries with a stronger voice in shaping sustainability policies.

Officially launched in 2011, the Center for Safety & Health Sustainability, a joint effort of safety and health professional organizations in the US, Canada, and the UK, is driven by the strong belief that an organization cannot be sustainable if it does not ensure safe and healthful conditions for its workers and contractors.

CSHS research has demonstrated that when organizations consider their own sustainability picture, occupational safety and health receives very little attention, if any at all. In 2013, CSHS reviewed the corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and annual reports for companies listed in the Corporate Knights' Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, exposing a disconnect between sustainability and worker safety. Out of the 100 companies examined, only 38 reported on the number of worker fatalities–28 reported at least one work-related fatality and one company reported 49 work-related deaths. In total, they found that the ways in which safety and health was reported was not standardized but highly variable, and did not provide meaningful insight into an organization's sustainability performance. As a direct result of this research report, Corporate Knights now tracks on fatality rates in their sustainability performance assessment when identifying the annual list of 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.

CSHS is committed to educating the business community and safety profession on the importance of safety and health as a part of good corporate governance and to providing new insights into sustainability reporting, materiality and the measurement, management, and impact of safety and health sustainability. In 2016, CSHS published a white paper on The Accounting Revolution and the New Sustainability: Implications for the OSH Professional and launched an initiative to standardize OSH reporting and published a best practice guide. The guide outlines a framework and defines metrics that can be used to describe safety and health efforts in sustainability reports. Through these efforts, CSHS envisions a day when all organizations consider the safety, health, and well-being of workers as part of their sustainable business practice.

For more information about CSHS and to access their research reports: http://www.centershs.org/.

Pro Recycling staff at a weekly safety meeting. Mike Shaw - Director of Safety (Speaking), Todd Smith -Driver (to the right), Jonny Attwood - Driver (right and back), Beth Peck - Dispatch (center back), Bryan Rasmussen - Driver (left back), Beau Peck - Director of Sales and Marketing (left front)

Pro Recycling Group

Pro Recycling Group consists of 3 Divisions: Pro Baler Services, Interwest Paper and Pro Polymers, and employs 42 workers in facilities in Utah.

Pro Recycling Group, a small business conglomerate out of South Salt Lake City, Utah, recognizes the value that investing in workplace safety and health can have. With organizational values rooted in the idea of the triple bottom line - People, Planet, Profit - Pro Recycling Group has long been committed to continuous improvement for identifying waste solutions and opportunities for community engagement. More recently, with an eye toward business growth, they have begun to think about worker safety and health in much the same way - an opportunity for innovation and differentiation.

By focusing on leadership from management, increasing employee engagement, and finding, fixing, and raising awareness of safety hazards, Pro Recycling Group is steadily building a culture of safety. In the past year, achievements include:

  • Instituting a full time position dedicated to safety;
  • Benchmarking progress and tracking costs;
  • Hosting weekly safety meetings;
  • Conducting monthly facility inspections;
  • Creating mechanisms for worker feedback and observations for hazards;
  • Catching people doing safety right and recognizing performance; and
  • Increasing training and certification opportunities.

The resources invested in safety and health are viewed as investments in responsibility and reputation; characteristics desired by customers and necessary for the continued growth and viability of the organization. In fact, data shows that this investment is already paying dividends through a 50% decrease in workers' compensation claims from 2015-2016, aiding Pro Recycling Group in achieving their goals of being a profitable company while realizing benefits for the environment, the community, and their people.

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