Corporate Social Responsibility and Occupational Safety and Health
As an inspiring and strategically important development, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly important priority for companies of all sizes and types.
Occupational safety and health (OSH) is an essential component of CSR and this presents managers and OSH professionals with a variety of opportunities and challenges.
What is CSR?
'CSR is the integration by companies of social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis'.
The concept of social responsibility means going beyond the fulfilment of legal requirements by investing 'more' in human capital, the environment, and relations with stakeholders. It is a voluntary instrument, but must be implemented reliably so that it fosters trust and confidence among stakeholders.
Why is CSR important?
- Customers and clients are influenced by a company's reputation in social and environmental areas.
- The employment market is competitive and good recruits want to work for and stay with companies that care.
- Social performance increasingly influences investors' decisions, as the ethical investment market grows ever more quickly.
- CSR enables the strategic management of internal and external risks in social as well as environmental areas.
- Existing socially responsible actions become more visible and are better communicated.
- Social and environmental responsibility has been demonstrated to reduce operating costs.
How does occupational safety and health fit in with CSR?
CSR is a voluntary initiative that must always address goals and actions clearly above the minimum levels of worker protection set out in EU and national legislation. Companies should adopt socially responsible initiatives because it is in their long-term interest.
With its focus on enterprises' stakeholders, CSR embraces both the internal needs of employees as well as the external needs of society. From an OSH perspective, this means both taking care of employees' safety and health in excess of legal requirements and considering external implications, such as using OSH as a criterion in the selection of subcontractors or in marketing.
CSR is likely to bring OSH closer to other important issues such as:
- human resources;
- work and life balance;
- other fundamental rights at work;
- environmental issues;
- public safety and health (including product safety);
- profitability and productivity.
CSR presents enterprises with an opportunity to raise their commitment to OSH. However, this means treading a careful path that builds upon existing achievements in OSH and avoids the pitfalls that might accompany the arrival of yet another management priority.
To learn more about CSR and OSH go to the following:
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work CSR Topic Page
Factsheet number 54 explains what CSR is, how it relates to OSH, and gives some basic guidance for their successful integration.
European Commission website on CSR