The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Occupational Psychosocial Health: Reporting on Hazards and Risks – J van Zyl (D Psych)
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has emerged as a key global standard for sustainability reporting, with the aim of promoting transparency and accountability in businesses and other organizations. As part of its broader agenda, the GRI has increasingly given attention to occupational health and safety (OHS), and specifically to psychosocial health, hazards, and risks. This article will describe into how the GRI addresses and suggests reporting by companies on these critical areas.
GRI and its Approach to Sustainability Reporting
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent international organization that aids businesses, governments, and other entities in understanding and communicating their sustainability impacts. The GRI Standards, launched in 2016, are the first global standards for sustainability reporting, and set the foundation for a consistent approach in this area (Global Reporting Initiative, 2016).
Addressing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
The GRI acknowledges the importance of ensuring that employees and other workers are safe from occupational injury or harm. Standard GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety, updated in 2018, provides guidance for organizations to report on their OHS management and its outcomes (Global Reporting Initiative, 2018).
Focus on Psychosocial Health
Recognizing the evolving workplace dynamics and rising challenges like workplace stress, burnout, and other psychosocial risks, the GRI Standard includes provisions for organizations to address and report on psychosocial health. These risks can arise from organizational factors, job content, and task design, among other sources (World Health Organization, 2020).
Identification and Management: The GRI standards encourage organizations to describe their mechanisms for identifying work-related psychosocial hazards and their approach to managing them (Global Reporting Initiative, 2018). This requires a proactive approach, identifying potential hazards before they cause harm.
Incident Reporting: While traditional OHS metrics have been centered on physical injuries or fatalities, the GRI standards advocate for recording and disclosing incidents related to psychosocial health, including reported cases of work-related stress or burnout.
Engagement and Training: Organizations are also encouraged to report on how they engage workers, worker representatives, and other relevant stakeholders in the development, implementation, and evaluation of psychosocial health policies and procedures.
Outcome Metrics: To gauge the efficacy of interventions and strategies, organizations can provide metrics such as absentee rates due to psychosocial issues, or data on worker satisfaction and well-being surveys.
Challenges and Implications
Quantifying Psychosocial Health: Unlike physical injuries, quantifying and measuring psychosocial health can be challenging. It requires standardized instruments and surveys to gauge the mental well-being of employees (Leka et al., 2010).
Stigma and Reporting: Many societies and corporate cultures stigmatize mental health issues, making it challenging for employees to report them or for organizations to discuss them openly (Martin, 2010).
Future Directions: As the workplace continues to evolve, with remote work, digitalization, and other changes, the GRI and organizations will need to adapt their understanding and reporting mechanisms for psychosocial health (Eurofound and the International Labour Organization, 2019).
The GRI’s focus on occupational psychosocial health is both timely and essential. By encouraging transparency around psychosocial hazards and risks, the GRI not only promotes employee well-being but also helps businesses identify and address potential challenges, ensuring sustainable business practices.
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Global Reporting Initiative. (2018). GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety.
World Health Organization. (2020). Occupational health: Psychosocial risks.
Leka, S., Griffiths, A., & Cox, T. (2010). Work organization and stress. WHO.
Martin, J. (2010). Stigma and patient disclosure of mental illness. Public Health Nursing.
Eurofound and the International Labour Organization. (2019). Working conditions in a global perspective.
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