Standard 3

Community Health, Safety and Security

Targeted Guidance

Additional Resources



The Community Health and Safety Standard recognizes that project activities, equipment, and infrastructure can increase community exposure to risks and impacts. Potential negative impacts affecting health and safety may arise from a broad range of supported activities, including from infrastructure development and construction activities, changes in the nature and volume of traffic and transportation, water and sanitation issues, use and management of hazardous materials and chemicals, impacts on natural resources and ecosystems, the influx of project labour, and potential abuses by security personnel. This Standard addresses the need to avoid or minimize the risks and impacts to community health, safety and security that may arise from project-related activities, with particular attention given to disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Measures to ensure occupational health and safety issues are addressed in Standard 7: Labour and Working Conditions.


  • To anticipate and avoid adverse impacts on the health and safety of affected communities during the project life cycle from both routine and non-routine circumstances
  • To ensure quality and safety in the design and construction of project-related infrastructure, preventing and minimizing potential safety risks and accidents
  • To avoid or minimize community exposure to disaster risks, diseases and hazardous materials associated with project activities
  • To ensure that the safeguarding of personnel and property minimizes risks to communities and is carried out in accordance with international human rights standards and principles
  • To have in place effective measures to address emergency events, whether human-made or natural hazards


Scope of Application

The applicability of this Standard is established during the social and environmental screening and categorization process. Requirements of this Standard apply to projects that may pose significant risks to human health and safety. Further requirements to avoid or minimize impacts on human health and the environment due to pollution are included in Standard 8: Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency.



Community health and safety: Community health and safety refers to protecting local communities from hazards caused and/or exacerbated by project activities (including flooding, landslides, contamination or other natural or human-made hazards), disease, and the accidental collapse or failure of project structural elements such as dams. Project-related activities may directly, indirectly or cumulatively change community exposure to hazards. A significant concern with major development projects is the spread of communicable diseases from the workforce to the surrounding communities.

Assessments and management plans: UNDP ensures that projects assess the risks to, and potential impacts on, the safety of affected communities during the design, construction, operation, and decommissioning of projects and establish preventive measures and plans to address them in a manner commensurate with the identified risks and impacts. These measures1 will favour the prevention or avoidance of risks and impacts over their minimization and reduction. Appropriate health and safety assessments are undertaken2 and management plans and systems adopted based on good international practice, tailored to the specific sector or activities in question, and designed and carried out with appropriate health and safety expertise. The assessment and adopted management measures take into account differences in risk exposure and sensitivity of women and men, as well as marginalized and disadvantaged groups, including children, older persons, persons with disabilities, minorities and indigenous people.

Consideration is given to potential exposure to both accidental and natural hazards, especially where the structural elements of supported activities are accessible to members of the affected community or where their failure could result in injury to the community. UNDP ensures that projects avoid or minimize the exacerbation of impacts caused by natural or human-made hazards, such as landslides or floods that could result from land use changes due to project activities. 

Community exposure to health issues: UNDP ensures that projects avoid or minimize the potential for community exposure to health risks (e.g. pollution, contaminated areas/resources) and diseases that could result from or be exacerbated by programming activities, including water-related3 and vector-borne diseases, and communicable and noncommunicable diseases, injuries, nutritional disorders, mental health, and well-being that could result from project activities, taking into consideration the differentiated exposure to and higher sensitivity of marginalized groups, including communities living in voluntary isolation. UNDP ensures that projects avoid or minimize transmission of communicable diseases that may be associated with the influx of temporary or permanent project labour. Where endemic diseases exist in the project area (e.g. malaria), UNDP explores ways to improve environmental conditions that could minimize the incidence of such diseases. Where projects involve the provision of health services and/or use of antibiotics, incorporate antimicrobial stewardship.4

Infrastructure design and safety: Structural elements and services (e.g. transportation) are designed, constructed, operated and decommissioned in accordance with national legal requirements, good international practice, and any relevant international obligations and standards by competent professionals and certified or approved by competent authorities or professionals. Structural elements of any infrastructure that may pose significant health and/or safety risks shall: (i) be designed and constructed by qualified engineers and professionals, (ii) be certified and approved by independent professionals not involved in the design process, (iii) include appropriate plans for construction supervision and quality assurance, operation and maintenance, and emergency preparedness, and (iv) require periodic safety inspections and monitoring.5 Geological and geophysical hazards are considered, and appropriate risk assessments are undertaken where needed. If structural elements must be situated in a high-risk location (e.g. seismic activity, risk of extreme weather or slow onset events), then independent experts with relevant experience are engaged to review the relevant project activities as early as possible prior to construction and throughout the project cycle.

In addition, for project-related construction activities, ensure appropriate control of site access (e.g. fencing, security), use of appropriate personal protective equipment, safely designed work platforms, appropriate engineering and administrative controls (e.g. detours, traffic calming, signs), and safety barriers. Construction personnel will have appropriate qualifications and training. Where public access is intended, incremental risks of public's potential exposure to operational accidents or natural hazards are considered. Where relevant, potential traffic and road safety risks associated with project activities will be identified, evaluated and monitored. Ensure that contractors working on project sites appropriately manage health and safety risks and address the requirements herein.​

Universal access: Wherever feasible, UNDP ensures the concept of universal access is applied in the design and construction of facilities and services open to or provided to the public on an equal basis with others.6

Hazardous materials management and safety: UNDP ensures that actions are taken to avoid, or where avoidance is not possible, minimize potential community exposure to hazardous materials and substances that may be utilized in or released by project activities. Where potential exposure exists to health-and life-threatening hazards, including to workers and their families, special care to avoid such exposure is taken by modifying, substituting, and eliminating the condition or material causing potential hazard. Hazardous material exposure risks from natural hazard-triggered accidents are considered. If hazardous materials are part of the existing project-related infrastructure, then due care will be exercised during construction, implementation and decommissioning in order to avoid exposure. Appropriate due diligence is undertaken to control the safety of deliveries and transportation and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes.

Emergency preparedness: UNDP ensures that the implementing partner, in collaboration with appropriate and relevant authorities and third parties, is prepared to respond to accidental and emergency situations in a manner appropriate to prevent and mitigate any harm to people and/or the environment. Emergency events include unanticipated incidents arising from both natural and human-made hazards, typically in the form of fire, explosions, leaks or spills, caused by failure to implement operating procedures, extreme weather, or lack of early warning. Emergency preparedness, reflected in planning documents, includes the identification of areas where accidents and emergency situations may occur, communities and individuals that may be impacted, response procedures, provision of equipment and resources, designation of responsibilities, communication and notification channels, and periodic training to ensure effective response. The emergency preparedness and response activities is periodically reviewed and revised, as necessary to reflect changing conditions. UNDP considers the differential impacts of emergency situations on women and men, the elderly, children, persons with disabilities, and potentially marginalized groups, and strengthen the participation of women in decision-making processes on emergency preparedness and response strategies. Appropriate information about emergency preparedness and response activities, resources, and responsibilities is disclosed to affected communities.

Risks associated with influx of project workers: UNDP ensures that appropriate measures are taken, including by project contractors, to avoid, mitigate and manage the risks and potential adverse impacts on health and safety of communities arising from the influx of project-related workers into project areas. Such risks and impacts may be associated with changes in population composition, health implications and exposure to communicable diseases, threats of sexual violence and harassment, crime, and increased vulnerability of communities due to increased pressure on already scare natural resources. Measures are implemented that seek to protect community members from such risks.7 Project workers are provided training, awareness raising programmes and codes of conduct. Where relevant, alternative means to remedy significant stress on natural resources caused by increased population numbers are identified.

Impacts on ecosystem services: Adverse impacts on ecosystem services may result in adverse health and safety risks to communities (e.g. loss of natural buffers increasing flooding risks). UNDP ensures that measures are taken to avoid, or where avoidance is not possible, minimize such adverse impacts and implement appropriate mitigation measures that aim to maintain the value and functionality of ecosystem services of relevance to local communities, paying special attention to avoid causing or exacerbating potential adverse impacts on marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Where appropriate and feasible, potential risks and impacts on ecosystem services that may be exacerbated by climate change are identified. See also Standard 1 regarding measures to conserve ecosystems and maintain ecosystem services.

Security-related issues: Where UNDP projects involve engagement of security personnel to protect facilities and personal property or to otherwise engage in project activities, security arrangements are provided in a manner that does not violate international human rights standards or principles,8 or jeopardize the community's safety and security. UNDP ensures that potential risks posed by security arrangements to those within and outside the project area are assessed, that those providing security are appropriately vetted, trained and supervised, and that security arrangements are appropriately monitored and reported.9 Reasonable inquiries are undertaken to verify that potential security personnel have not been implicated in past abuses and all allegations of unlawful or abusive acts will be reviewed and actions taken to prevent recurrence and reprisals against individuals and communities. Where necessary, UNDP reports unlawful and abusive acts to relevant authorities.



​​​(1) Preventive and control measures shall be consistent with good international practice, such as the World Bank Group Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines (EHS Guidelines), available at

(2) For example, a hazard assessment, health risk assessment (including where relevant an environmental health risk assessment or a chemical health risk assessment), health impact assessment, or a health needs assessment.

(3) See for example the UNECE/WHO Protocol on Water and Health.

(4) Antimicrobial stewardship is a coordinated program that promotes the appropriate use of antimicrobials (including antibiotics) that improves patient outcomes, reduces microbial resistance, and decreases the spread of infections caused by multidrug resistant organisms.

(5) Note on dams: UNDP will not propose or implement any project or program supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that would involve the construction or rehabilitation of large or complex dams. In the unlikely event that UNDP provides support for such dams in other programming, UNDP will ensure that best practice policies and/or guidelines are followed, such as those of the World Commission on Dams report "Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making," and the World Bank ESS4 Annex 1 Safety of Dams. Large dams are defined as those of 15 meters or more in height. Dams that are between 5 and 15 meters high and have a reservoir of more than 3 million cubic meters are also classified as large dams. Complex dams are those of a height between 10 and 15 meters that present special design complexities, including an unusually large flood-handling requirement, location in a zone of high seismicity, foundations that are complex and difficult to prepare, or retention of toxic materials. For large dams and dams that may pose significant safety risks, an independent panel of experts will be appointed to review the assessment, design, construction and start of dam operations. For small dams without significant safety risks (e.g. farm ponds, local silt retention dams, low embankment tanks), UNDP will ensure confirmation that there are no or negligible risks of significant adverse impacts and ensure that dam construction and safety measures are designed by qualified engineers in accordance with good international practice (e.g. FAO's "Manual on Small Earth Dams," available at If the project relies on an existing dam or a dam under construction, an independent dam specialist will be engaged (a) to inspect and evaluate the dam's safety status and performance history, (b) review and evaluate the dam's operation and maintenance procedures, and (c) provide a written report and recommendation for any remedial work or safety measures needed.

(6) Universal access means unimpeded access for people of all ages and abilities in different situations and under various circumstances. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires adoption of "appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas" (Article 9). 

(7) UNDP requires that appropriate prevention and response measures be adopted to prevent and to respond effectively to gender-based violence (GBV), including designing activities to prevent and address potential exposure of project-affected people to GBV risks; screening of personnel; provision of training on prevention and response to GBV; effective reporting and response protocols; referrals for safe and confidential survivor assistance; and prompt investigation of allegations of GBV related to project activities.

(8) International human rights standards and principles include the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement officials, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and the International Code of Conduct on Private Security Providers.

(9) UNDP applies the "Human rights due diligence policy on United Nations support to non-United Nations security forces" by which UN agencies ensure that any support that they may provide to non-United Nations forces is consistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with their responsibilities to respect, promote and encourage respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. See For additional guidance, see also the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, available at