Businesses cannot be sustainable without protecting the safety, health, and welfare of their most vital resource—their workers. A document co-authored by a current and past leader of OSHA explains that sustainable businesses go beyond compliance to protect people, the planet, and their profits.
The ideas are expressed in a white paper authored by Dr. David Michaels, current assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, and John Henshaw, who served in the position from 2001 to 2004.
They emphasize that sustainability is not just about what is done, but how it gets done. It’s a mindset that requires leadership, high expectations, and setting and achieving goals that go beyond regulatory compliance. While sustainability has traditionally referred to the environmental impact of business activities and decisions, it’s also about people. “A building, no matter how energy efficient or healthy for occupants, is not sustainable if a construction worker is killed while building it,” they say.