Health, Safety & Environment or HSE has been the focal point of sustainability and CSR efforts of organizations the world over. I believe that the HSE policies of major corporations play an important role in safeguarding the environment, the well-being of their personnel, the communities that they operate in, and the overall sustained economic growth of their country. In their Environment Management Systems report, the Royal Society of Chemistry or RSC found that HSE is given not sufficient emphasis by a majority of companies around the world. They could take a leaf out of the book of corporate leaders who have well etched and effective HSE policies in place that work towards the betterment and sustainability of not only their business but also the community and nation at large.
A recent interview with Subbi Lakshmanan, VP & Head, Domain Solutions – ENU, Wipro Technologies, carried some great insights on how we should approach the topic of HSE and sustainability. A key factor mentioned is the identification of a company as a socioeconomic citizen of a country. Being a citizen of the country, the company is obliged to fulfil the same duties towards the community and nation as the common man. The Precautionary Principle report by the RSC also asserts that the sincere adoption of this mindset is crucial in driving organizations towards efficient sustainability and HSE. Once this approach has been established, companies can then look to applying a holistic approach towards sustainability that would include Occupational Health & Safety or OHS, the responsible use of resources, environmental footprint and CSR.
According to the Office of Health, Safety and Security of the Department of Energy, US, laying emphasis on HSE and sustainability is especially crucial in the Energy sector as this sector has one of the most widespread impacts on the environment. For a company operating in the Energy sector, implementing stringent HSE policies should not be an option, it should be an imperative. Companies need to move beyond merely adhering to the guidelines imposed by local and international regulations and standards, and begin to take a more proactive approach towards running a sustainable, environment friendly operation. Mr. Lakshmanan believes that most companies today are making at least base level efforts at implementing HSE and sustainability policies and initiatives, which can be considered to be laying the foundation for future growth and development in this direction.
While I believe that 'something' is, in fact, better than nothing, I also believe that something is often not 'enough'. For efforts towards adopting HSE and sustainability to be fruitful, companies at every level will need to follow established frameworks so as to bypass the trial and error phase and make the most of resources and time committed to the cause.