Safety and sustainability nexus: A review and appraisal

Waqas Nawaz, Patrick Linke, Muammer Koҫ

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The significance of sustainable development has been globally recognized as it offers a roadmap to counter the existential threats which humanity face in the modern world. While sustainability attempts to achieve a balance between economic growth, social development, and environmental protection, its operationalization is hard to comprehend. Generally, the environmental departments are held responsible for managing issues pertaining to sustainable development, which may lead to, or perceived as, a loss in the economic and social dimension. This paper argues that the operationalization of sustainability can be better understood if the association between sustainability and safety is recognized. This study attempts to answer three questions: (i) how ignoring safety can have adverse consequences for sustainable development; (ii) how safety-related initiatives support the operationalization of sustainability; and (iii) how the integration of safety at the design stage is the key to sustainable development. Following a systematic literature review, this mixed-method exploratory study attempts to emphasize on the safety-sustainability nexus through various practical examples, including City Center of Las Vegas; KiK Textilien and Ali Enterprise; Al-Shaheen Oil Field Gas Recovery and Utilization Project, Qatar; Jetty Boil-off Gas Recovery Project, Qatar; Tetra Ethyl Lead; Chlorofluorocarbons; and Nanomaterials. A commentary from selected safety experts (in the field of nanotechnology) is also provided to reflect on the significance of safety for the commercialization of new products and technologies. The results of this study confirm that safety and sustainability are closely linked, and the former can offer an operational command on the latter because both disciplines share the same pillars, which include economy, environment, and society. Also, historical events suggest that disregarding safety-sustainability nexus any further may lead to more dangerous consequences than ever before because of the growing human interest to adopt new technologies and products straightaway without analyzing the possible consequences. The results of this paper offer a rationale to look across the complete spectrum of safety in the organizational context in order to highlight the areas where optimization or modifications can result in more sustainable outcomes. Hence, managers and researchers can benefit from the findings of this study to improve the sustainability settings in the firms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-87
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume216
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019

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Keywords

  • Health and safety
  • Operationalization of sustainability
  • Safe commercialization
  • Safety-sustainability nexus
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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