Joint Conference on Occupational Health and Safety
Executive Director, Government Services
National Safety Council
Thank you for this opportunity to present a few closing remarks to a very successful conference in such a beautiful location. On behalf of the United States delegation and particularly Assistant Secretary of Labor, Mr. John Henshaw, I would like to offer our many thanks to our hosts, our sponsors, and our organizers. Our thanks go out to you Mr. Christodoulou and to you Mr. Ginalas and to the government of Greece for inviting us and hosting this important event. Thank you. Likewise Mayor Korniotis, we appreciate your hospitality, your lovely city, your wonderful island, and a great evening on Wednesday. And, by the way, thank you to the sub-prefect of Lemnos, Mr. Baveas, for the bottle of wine in each room. A special thanks to you Mr. Jansen, Mr. Biosca and you Mr. Camarota for all the hard work you and your staff in preparing for and making this conference so productive and successful. As a member of the U.S. delegation I want to offer a special thanks to Jackie DeMesme-Gray and her staff for all they did in helping the U.S. delegation prepare for this conference. Would everyone be kind enough to join me in a round of applause for the staffs of both the European Commission and the U.S.
Let me also recognize my co-organizers of the U.S. industry group, ORC and NAM and a personal thank you to Frank White and Bill Kojola as head of the industry and labor delegations respectively, for their contributions. On behalf of the entire U.S. delegation I'd like to thank you Secretary Henshaw for your leadership as head of the U.S. delegation. Thank you! And a special recognition is due all of you who served as chairs, co-chairs and scribes. Great job! Finally, I want to thank all of the delegates. This is important work, you have worked hard and your dedication is to be commended. Thank you, merci, danke schoen, and efcharisto!
Our work this week is built on a foundation and long history of collaboration between both sides of the Atlantic. It is now being spearheaded by effort on both sides under the New Transatlantic Agenda. Such collaboration is necessary now more than ever. When I participate in these interactions I am always amazed, more by the things we have in common rather than by our differences. At the same time I never fail to come away from an event like this without new, valuable, practical insights on how worker safety and health can be improved. It is important to remember and recognize what has come before us. So let me take a minute to recount the work of the previous conferences in this cooperative effort. The first EU/US Joint Conference on Occupational Health and Safety in Luxembourg dealt with issues on rulemaking, enforcement and innovative compliance techniques, information sharing and risk assessment and risk management practices. The second Joint Conference in San Francisco dealt with ergonomics, safety and health management systems, worker rights and participation, and small and medium sized businesses. As I stated, even these first conferences were built on the foundation of a long history of interchanges across the Atlantic on Occupational Safety and Health Issues. I believe the continuation of that interaction is, in and of itself, a worthwhile accomplishment. Also a very clear success has been the launching of our US/EU website of which we are all very proud. This tool will prove invaluable in sharing the fruits of our hard labor as we move forward from this venue. Cheryl, Hans-Horst, thank you. And congratulations to all participants in those earlier conferences.
Of course work on this conference started long before we came to Greece. The leadership, staff, delegates and even many who were unable to attend were instrumental in making this conference a success. As we focused on these “Critical Issues In Occupational Safety and Health”, I must say that we in the U.S. delegation were particularly impressed with the backgrounds, knowledge, commitment and preparation of our EU counterparts. Thank you for your hard work, your intellectual curiosity and for making this a very satisfying professional experience.
You have heard the reports on each of the workgroup topics and know that we have accomplished much but also know that there is still much to accomplish. There is perhaps universal agreement that we must take the outcomes of these conferences to the next level. That is, we must act on the concrete proposals that evolve as a result of this conference and hold ourselves and each other accountable for their timely completion. To ensure our success we have developed a framework to provide for our ongoing dialogue and sharing of information before our next conference. Let me suggest that when we consider the topics that may be part of a next conference we ensure that we report on the progress made in each of the topics we have addressed during this conference. We did not produce just statements of support or clarify positions. We made concrete proposals that if enacted will improve occupational safety and health on both sides of the Atlantic. If in two years we meet again we will know if we were successful. So while we can point to many indicators of this conference being a success we will really only be able to judge its true success over time. Our work is not finished today. Everyone here has a role in the follow up. Some of us will need to be very active in a very direct way. But everyone will need to be active in at least two ways. First, since these products are the result of all our work, we must ALL support them. This support is necessary back in our own communities of co-workers, colleagues, and professionals. We need that support from everyone here. Second, I ask you all to monitor the progress being made on these projects and to ask questions, give encouragement, and most of all, expect results! Ladies and gentlemen, this is our work, it is not perfect but it is very good. Do not let our failure to achieve perfection be an excuse for not moving forward. We should be proud of this work and we need to continue our efforts in order to make it succeed. I thank you in advance for your help in the future.
Finally, as we begin our deliberations regarding a possible next conference, let me ask, on behalf of the National Safety Council, that you consider having it during the same timeframe as the XVIIth World Congress on Occupational Safety and Health at Work in Orlando Florida in September, 2005. As many of you may know, every three years, the International Labor Office (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) co-sponsor, with a host country, the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. The XVIIth World Safety Congress will be held on September 18-22, 2005, in Orlando, Florida. It is the first time in the 50-year history of the World Congress that it is being held in the U.S, and the National Safety Council has been chosen as Congress Secretariat. As the premier organization in safety and health in the U.S., t he National Safety Council was founded in the U.S. in 1913. We take great pride in the many successes we have enjoyed over our 90-year history in contributing to the decrease in injuries and death in the U.S. It is with this pride that we host the World Safety Congress, and invite your participation.
Some of the topics discussed during the three joint conferences will be addressed at the 2005 World Congress.
The four themes for the World Congress are:
- Impact of Globalization: Opportunities and Risks
- Leadership in Safety and Health
- Challenges in a Changing World of Work
- Prevention is a Value in a Globalized World
We hope to provide an innovative forum for international discussion and debate of current issues relating to all aspects of safety and health at work, and invite your participation, as individuals and as a joint US-EU undertaking, to take part in this important event.
With that I'd like to close and thank you again and wish you a very safe journey home.