Key Takeaways

- The OSH function has been a program area of perceived best fit for a suite of expanding compliance and stakeholder initiatives such as sustainability, security, emergency management and many other disciplines for decades.

- Traditional and well-documented risk and hazard assessment methodologies are a solid foundation for safety professionals to utilize to assist organizations with identifying and establishing the materiality of environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements.

- Safety professionals are expertly positioned to assist their clients and companies as ESG consultants. Safety professionals have good institutional knowledge of their clients’ or their own organizations and can use familiar risk assessment and management protocols and methodologies to identify, create and maintain certain components of ESG programs.

- Organizations and safety professionals can work together to determine the level of structural and programmatic maturity needed to implement, manage and grow relevant ESG elements.


Safety professionals owe the formal validation of their integral role in protecting the lives of workers to the introduction of OSH regulations around the world during the past 30 to 50 years (Hudson & Ramsey, 2019; Provan & Prior, 2019; Wright et al., 2019). The original OSH regulations definitively established a basis for the many existing regulations that ensure workers are protected from hazards that compromise their safety and health. The evolution of progressively stringent OSH regulations, standards and guidelines over the years has provided organizations with a clear mandate to provide for worker safety as part of their organizational structure, goals and culture to drive sustainable outcomes (Schneid & Schneid, 2019).

The emergence of environmental and security risks gave way to the rise of quality and sustainability concerns, which resulted in a combined prescribed objective: to preserve our world for future generations (Penzenstadler et al., 2014). Often, employers added the management of these concerns and others, such as emergency management, into the OSH function as a program area of perceived best fit since the safety and health function influences essentially every functional area within an organization (Schneid, 2014). As a result, sustainability, lean concepts, quality, security, emergency management and many other disciplines have been added to the OSH function in the past several decades (Manuele, 2013), allowing safety professionals to contribute key value to an organization’s bottom line, not only in terms of cost reduction, but also in productivity, employee morale and shareholder value. As a result, in many cases where environmental, social and governance (ESG) professionals cannot yet be found or where the creation of ESG management as a separate discipline area has yet to be funded by an organization, the expertise of the safety professional has been called upon to provide assistance with the management of ESG concerns.

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