Issue 2 - September 2014

In this month's newsletter we address the importance of workplace sustainability and integrated reporting. We are particularly interested in the effects better reporting may have on the safety and health of workers in the supply chain.  

John Howard, Director of the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, examined the importance of corporate social responsibility/sustainability in the supply chain at ASSE's Safety 2014 conference. Howard cited the case of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. 


On April 24, 2013 a building that housed a garment factory and other local businesses collapsed, killing over 1,100 people and injuring more than 2,500. Cracks had appeared in the building the day before. While other businesses in the building closed, the garment workers in a resident factory were ordered to return to work.  


While worker advocates and corporate support came to the aide of the Rana Plaza workers and greater attention is now focused on the garments industry of Bangladesh, little has been done on a broader, global scale to create awareness of the importance and lasting impact of safe, healthy, sustainable workplaces.   

John Howard on Safety & Health
John Howard on the importance of workplace sustainability.

The global community has come to expect and rely upon the financial reporting provided by companies to evaluate and determine an organization's financial health.


Responding to consumer and investor demands to see information on social and environmental performance, corporate reporting has expanded to include sustainability reporting over the last 20 years. In fact, Howard cites research indicating that 613 of the largest American businesses interviewed were shown to have an increased interest in sustainable performance ratings and integrated reporting. 


What these reports do not typically provide, however, is an assessment of how accountable a corporation may be with regard to achieving worker safety and health, especially in its supply chain. Transparency in the supply chain is a vital component of the sustainability picture - and besides improved business efficiency, greater integrated reporting could have a cascading effect throughout the supply chain, helping improve workplace sustainability in regions where worker vulnerability is high. 


CSHS is helping to shape the vision of what a "worker safe" organization's performance indicators, including with regard to suppliers, looks like 


The global professional OSH can help, as well. At 11:20 Howard recommends that the OSH community create a type of "Safety Sustainability Corps" dedicated to sharing professional safety expertise to make sure Rana Plaza is never repeated. What do you think of this recommendation? 

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Mike Wallace, CSHS Advisory Council Member and Managing Director at BrownFlynn, recently weighed in on creating healthier supply chains in an article published in Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The article refers to what Wallace calls "impact sourcing." 

Wallace defines impact sourcing as "a business model of helping companies create shared value throughout their services supply chain." In a recent survey, 46% of companies that already use corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives believed they would engage in "impact sourcing" - meaning they would seek suppliers that share sustainability values. The potential for improving worker safety and health by corporations and stakeholders demanding "worker safe" products is tremendous.  

The United Nations Global Compact has also weighed in on safety and health in supply chains in A Guide to Traceability. Arguing that the products companies use should be traceable, they provide four main reasons for implementing traceability, including values & efficiencies, stakeholder pressure, regulation and global alignment - further broken down in the table below:

Values & EfficienciesStakeholder PressureRegulationGlobal Alignment
1) Reducing risk
2) Operational efficiencies and process consistency
3) Securing supply
4) Supplier selection and supplier relationship.
5) Reputation benefits
6) Meeting stakeholder demands for more product information
7) Ensuring sustainability claims are true
8) Meeting legal requirements9) Standardization of expectations, processes and systems
10) Ensuring security of natural resources 
From the Occupational Safety & Health Community
CSHS is pleased to announce the launch of our new website!
  • Corporate Knights has released new metrics for its Global 100 list with greater emphasis on Metrics for Health & Safety Performance. Influenced by CSHS, the list now places much greater emphasis on an organization's history of worker fatalities - among other metrics - to determine the most sustainable companies in the world. 
  • On June 10, 2014 the Modern Slavery Bill was introduced into the House of Commons. This bill could potentially help enforce anti-slavery regulations in the United Kingdom with ramifications for supply chain workers in other countries.  
We want to hear from you! 

Tell us what you think is the key to creating 
a supply chain with safe, healthy workers.  

Use #supplychain and #CSHS! 


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