The AT&T Issue Brief Library

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Environment, Health & Safety

Materiality Assessment Topics: Hazardous solid waste; E-waste

Issue Summary

Protecting natural resources—and complying with laws that work to do so—is critical to ensuring these resources will be around for future generations.

Our Position

We are committed to complying with all applicable environment, health and safety laws and regulations and to maintaining and improving management systems throughout the company to ensure environmental responsibility and employee safety.

Data Highlights

2017 Key Performance Indicators
  • Regulated waste
    • Waste managed by the AT&T Resource Recovery Center (including universal and hazardous waste): >13,150 tons
    • Quantity of such waste recycled: >9,530 tons
    • Quantity of such waste managed as e-Waste: >1,210 tons
  • Injury/Illness
    • AT&T’s OSHA total recordable occupational injury and illness rate (per 100 employees): 1.85

Our Action

We are committed to following the most stringent environmental compliance laws applicable to our operations. AT&T complies with the environmental laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which it operates.

Our operating companies had 1 significant environmental compliance-related enforcement action in 2017 (defined as actions that resulted in sanctions equal to or exceeding $100,000). AT&T reached an agreement with the California Attorney General’s office and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office over improper disposal of hazardous waste by DIRECTV, LLC in company dumpsters for a monetary settlement of $9.5 million. We cooperated closely with the state and Alameda County to resolve this issue following our acquisition of DIRECTV in a way that is in the best interest of the environment, our customers and all Californians. The settlement recognizes the company for taking prompt action, dedicating significant additional resources toward environmental compliance and improving DIRECTV’s hazardous and universal waste management compliance programs.

We take our environmental, health and safety (EHS) stewardship seriously, and we evaluate our EHS performance through regular reviews and audits. When issues are identified, we partner with federal, state and local agencies to reach resolutions that are in the best interest of the environment, our customers and the citizens of our communities.

In the event an accident occurs in the workplace, our policy is to respond swiftly, investigate contributing factors, determine the root cause and take appropriate corrective actions. We require employees to report all alleged work-related injuries, illnesses and accidents. For U.S. operations in 2017, our OSHA total recordable occupational injury and illness rate was 1.85 per 100 employees. This rate is lower than the most recent (2016) average published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the telecommunications industry, which was 2.0 per 100 employees.1

Our Code of Business Conduct (COBC) specifically includes a section on creating a safe and secure place to work. Each employee—from our part-time workers to our CEO—is responsible for reviewing the code annually and understanding its provisions. In 2017, approximately 99% of all AT&T employees globally completed the annual COBC training.

We train all employees on our EHS system, and we conduct specialized training based on job tasks and the hazards an employee is likely to encounter in his or her position.

Workplace Conditions

Through assessment of potential noise exposures, AT&T EHS has developed a comprehensive hearing conservation program. This program consists of audiometric testing and training to support employees who have potential exposure to noise levels above standards set by regulating agencies. A hearing conservation course and audiometric testing are provided annually to the more than 1,000 employees in the program.

AT&T has a comprehensive program to maintain indoor air quality (IAQ), which involves the maintenance of buildings and ventilation systems, immediate clean-up of water leaks and standards of care to reduce the introduction of pollutants such as chemicals and smoke in the workplace. An IAQ overview course is available to all employees on-demand. Temperature and humidity are considered under the indoor air quality program. AT&T mirrors the American National Standards Institute consensus standard for indoor temperatures. These standards establish environmentally friendly temperature settings and ensure the comfort of building occupants.

AT&T also provides a range of workplace options that support both team and individual work through the Flexible Workplace Program. In our larger facilities, workspaces are being designed to bring employees together, providing increased opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Proper illumination is an essential component of each workspace type. Whether employees are working from an AT&T location or offsite, AT&T offers a flexible work environment and a variety of work spaces and platforms.

Environment, Health and Safety Management System

AT&T has a strong environment, health and safety management plan—and it starts with an Environment, Health and Safety Policy signed by the AT&T Chairman and CEO.

AT&T has adopted an Environment, Health and Safety Management System based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001. This system includes provisions for the planning, implementation, operation, evaluation and annual review of our Health and Safety Programs and their effectiveness. Please see our comparison table for alignment.

The EHS Management System provides a framework for AT&T to systematically manage its environmental risks and health and safety hazards. In doing so, this system helps AT&T improve our operations and performance and maintain the highest commitment to the health and safety of our employees and the protection of our environment.

Developed for AT&T employees, customers and a range of other parties, the EHS Management System ensures compliance with external and internal objectives across the following 6 elements:


  1. General Requirements: As mentioned above, our EHS Management System is based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001.
  2. Environment, Health and Safety Policy: The AT&T EHS Policy is communicated throughout the enterprise and commits us to achieving compliance with EHS laws and regulations, continually improving our management systems and achieving other non-regulatory related EHS goals.
  3. Planning: We identify the potential hazards, risks and impacts to the environment associated with our operations. Then, we design and prioritize programs and processes to prevent or mitigate those potential hazards and risks. Our planning involves establishing objectives and targets for evaluating EHS performance. We manage compliance by conducting job hazard analyses and occupational risk assessments; implementing a Management of Change (MOC) process; implementing business unit EHS plans; and analyzing audit and assessment data.
  4. Implementation and Operation: We implement these plans by assigning clear responsibility and accountability for EHS performance and defining clear roles and responsibilities within the EHS organization. We train AT&T employees and communicate EHS expectations to our vendors and contractors, providing EHS information both within and outside the enterprise.
  5. Checking: AT&T routinely checks on our EHS performance by analyzing key performance measures and metrics covering aspects of EHS performance, and by reviewing business operations that impact EHS. When incidents or nonconformities with laws or company standards are identified, we have formal systems established to identify corrective actions and track these actions until they are completed.
  6. Management Review: Senior leadership participates in regular reviews of our EHS performance and programs.


See our Waste Management issue brief for more information on our operational waste reduction efforts.




Updated on: Nov 20, 2018