The Risks and Challenges of Accrediting EHS and Sustainability Performance
In the past few decades or so, there has been a revolution in third-party programs and standards certifying, recognizing, or accrediting companies’ environmental, health and safety, and sustainability performance. This has included numerous International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and guidelines such as those for Environmental Management (ISO14000), Occupational Health and Safety (ISO45001), and Social Responsibility (ISO26000). Coincidentally, a number of similar recognition programs have been initiated by organizations such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Dow Jones.
The basic intent of all of these certification and recognition programs is to demonstrate to shareholders and other interested stakeholders that companies are managing their businesses in a socially responsible way. And this is a good thing. However, there have been some issues, especially with the recognition programs, that have affected their credibility and, hence, the credibility of the accreditations. This article discusses three of those recognition programs, one of which was terminated due to credibility issues; one of which has been subject to recent criticism stemming from an internal audit; and one of which has had three notable, and formally recognized, companies experience significant environmental catastrophes.
- The US EPA Performance Track Program
- The OSHA Voluntary Protection (“Star”) Program
- The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices