Closing of Conference
4th US-EU Joint Conference on Occupational Safety and Health
Orlando, Florida - September 14, 2005
Steven F. Witt

Steven F. Witt

When we opened the conference a few days ago, I talked about the challenges before us - the numbers, the hazards, the distinctions. I even mentioned the natural disasters that we have all been up against lately.

Well, I am happy to report that there is good news on all fronts. There is hope. There is progress.

The European floods may have swelled the Danube , but many treasures were spared, including the 1,000 year old Benedictine Abbey in Weltenberg, which is famous for priceless works of art and its brewery, one of the most popular in Germany .

And on the Gulf Coast of the U.S., life is starting to triumph again. More than a dozen babies have been born to mothers displaced by the storm. Families are welcoming the tiniest miracles, and seeing the first breaths of their new baby breathing life back into their families and their communities.

And right here in Orlando, we have made great progress in accomplishing the goals laid out for this summit. The subgroups have all reported their successes. And I am proud to say that there are many.

These achievements give me heart. I am very happy to see so much cooperation is at hand and so much progress has been made over the last couple days. Everyone here should celebrate the success of the summit. But in the larger sense, our work is just beginning.

We have established new markers for success. We have identified good practices that really can do some good. But there is still more work to be done. This is only the fourth of what promises to be many summits designed to continuously improve the safety and health of our workers. In the span between the close of this summit and the opening of the next, we have plenty of time to make a difference.

My challenge to everyone here, including myself and my colleagues at OSHA, is to build on these recommendations, to foster more dialogue, to seek more tangible results, and to not be satisfied until every worker returns home safe each and every day.

Thank you - every one of you - for being here this week. It has been an honor to be your host.

I look forward to working with you over the next two years as we build on the pragmatic successes achieved here and aspire to fulfill the mission first articulated in Luxembourg. I will see you at the next biannual conference to be held in Europe.

In the meantime, for those who are staying for the World Safety Congress, I look forward to continuing to work directly with you through next week. And for those returning home, may you have a safe journey.

Thank you.