Welcoming Remarks Of Frank A. White
October 15, 2003
Good morning. It is a great honor and pleasure to make these welcoming remarks on behalf of the us industry delegation to the third us eu safety and health conference. At the outset I want to acknowledge the contributions of my us industry co-chairs, alan mcmillan from the national safety council and patrick cleary from the national association of manufacturers.
We are very eager to learn from and share our knowledge and experience with our european colleagues on the important topics on the conference agenda. Just as important, we are eager to continue to develop ways to collaborate in the years ahead in order to better achieve the ultimate goal that brings us all here and that gives us a common purpose and guidepost for progress -- improving worker safety and health on our two continents and beyond.
The world around us has changed greatly since the last conference nearly three years ago and we are all still struggling to adjust to those changes and adapt especially to the need for heightened attention to security, as well as to respond to persistent economic challenges and to ever-increasing competitive pressures. And we in industry need to be candid about how some of these global challenges affect our ability to assure a safe and healthful workplace.
We are in an economic and business environment where dedicated health and safety resources are, in general, not increasing and in many cases are decreasing, but responsibilities are often expanding as global operations expand and consolidation of functions occurs. In addition, changing work environments and new working relationships make effective management of safety and health issues more complex. And corporate leadership is increasingly demanding that all corporate functions, inluding safety and health, demonstrate business value in financial terms. These kinds of challenges are best faced openly and meeting them is best achieved with the key stakeholders as participants in the search for solutions. That is what we have an opportunity to do here: acknowledge difficult issues and undertake collaborative approaches to address them.
It is a growing reality for us industry that in many important areas of occupational safety and health, the european union is leading the way through the conduct of research, the issuance of directives, the setting of standards both mandatory and voluntary, and the establishment of guidelines. It is vital for us business, particularly enterprises with global operations, to be more knowledgeable about these initiatives and to contribute to the discussion of them. This conference affords us a wonderful opportunity for just such understanding and involvement.
In preparing these opening remarks, I wanted to be sure to strike a theme of continuity with past joint programs, which is an important aspect of these conferences. So I began by reviewing the remarks of jerry scannel, who spoke to you as the chair of us industry at the opening of the november 2000 us eu conference in san francisco. In his remarks, jerry included a casual reference to benjamin franklin, one of america's most revered founding fathers. It so happens that this year, 2003, is the 300 th anniversary of benjamin franklin's birth and there is renewed attention being paid in the us to his legacy.
What struck me was how relevant franklin is to today's world. He was, after all, america's original citizen of the world, who well understood the fundamental need for nations to understand each other's perspectives and to seek common ground. As is well-known, franklin spent many years in europe as an ambassoador extraordinaire for the new united states and he truly loved life on the continent. Franklin, in turn, was much beloved in europe. His contributions to the entire world, as an entrepeneur and businessman, statesman and diplomat, and founder of many of our civic institutions, not to mention scientist and inventor, still amaze and inspire.
So it is in benjamin franklin's spirit that I and the other members of the us industry delegation approach this third us-eu conference on safety and health: we pledge to search for common understanding, to find creative and collaborative approaches to the issues before us, to bring good humor to the proceedings, and to seek lasting relationships with our european colleagues.
Thank you all. My industry colleagues and I are eager to begin our work here.