GRI Standards Updates: OHS and Water

GRI-Global-Reporting-Initiative.jpg

As someone who promotes the use of GRI’s Standards-Based Sustainability Reporting Framework, I have often touted the benefits we can expect from its modular nature which lends itself well to updates of individual Standards without needing to revise (and relearn) the entire framework, as was required by previous, generational versions (G3, G4, etc.) of the GRI Framework. Simply put, less investment of time and resources will be needed to adapt to inevitable and necessary changes.

The time has come to test what we had hoped would be true: as anticipated, the first two of GRI’s individual standards were updated on June 28, 2018 and are now available for download from the GRI website. GRI requires reporters to use these updated standards in published materials by January 1, 2021, so you have plenty of time to integrate them into your monitoring, measuring and reporting routines, and, of course, earlier adoption is encouraged.


Key changes you should be aware of:

GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 replaces GRI 303: Water 2016

Changes were made to GRI 303 to harmonize with the 2018 CDP Water Questionnaire, to place greater emphasis on measuring impacts in areas with water stress, and to address metrics, concepts, and data collection methodology from the CEO Water Mandate Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines. New specific management approach content focuses on how water is managed as a shared resource and how impacts are managed at a local level. Provisions have been introduced to allow flexibility with reporting on both critical freshwater resources, and other water that an organization is managing. Updated terminology and extensive guidance on how to compile the data is also included in the revised Standard.

  • Be sure to note that this revised Standard contains two management approach disclosures (Disclosures 303-1 and 303-2).
  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Core option, it is required to report on at least one of three topic-specific disclosures (Disclosure 303-3, 303-4, or 303-5).

  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Comprehensive option, it is required to report on all topic-specific disclosures.

GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 replaces GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2016

Changes were made to GRI 403 to harmonize with the ISO 45001 Health and Safety Management System standard and to address key challenges around reporting of occupational health and safety impacts such as low comparability of data, lack of leading indicators, overreliance on productivity measures, and risks related to lifestyle (e.g., poor diets, lack of physical activity). Now there is a section on scope of workers, explaining the full spectrum of workers for whose occupational health and safety an organization is expected to be responsible.

Throughout the Standard, there is a greater emphasis on the identification of hazards and assessment of risks, and the application of the hierarchy of controls to eliminate hazards. The Standard places greater emphasis on health (e.g., ill health data has been separated from safety data) and new disclosures have been added on occupational health services, access to healthcare and worker health promotion. The revisions place greater emphasis on measuring impacts on the health of workers, as opposed to loss of productivity (i.e., the severity of an injury is measured by recovery time, instead of by lost time). Finally the revised Standard contains improved methodologies for compiling and calculating injury and ill health related data, plus raw data is now required for work-related injuries, in addition to standardized rates.

  • Be sure to note that this revised Standard now has seven management approach disclosures (Disclosures 403-1, 403-2, 403-3, 403-4, 403-5, 403-6, and 403-7).

  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Core option, it is required to report on at least one of three topic-specific disclosures (Disclosure 403-8, 403-9, or 403-10).

  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Comprehensive option, it is required to report on all topic-specific disclosures.


KERAMIDA provides Sustainability Reporting Training services to organizations throughout the U.S. as a GRI certified Training Partner. For more information about the changes to the GRI framework, please call us today at (800) 508-8034 or email Pamela Griesemer at pg@keramida.com

 GRI Certified Training Partner

Blog Author

Pamela-Griesemer.jpg

Pamela Griesemer, M.S., LEED GA, ENV SP, FSA
Vice President of Sustainability Services
KERAMIDA Inc.

Contact Pamela at pg@keramida.com.