Alan C. McMillan
Closing Remarks
Joint Conference on Occupational Health and Safety

Alan C. McMillan

Thank you for this opportunity to offer a few closing remarks to this very successful conference. On behalf of the United States Delegation and particularly Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Mr. Jonathan Snare, I would like to offer special thanks to our guests, our sponsors, and our organizers for an extremely productive conference.

Our thanks to you, Mr. Jansen, for all the hard work you and your staff have contributed in preparing for and making this conference so successful.

As a member of the US delegation, I want to offer a special thanks to Jackie DeMesme-Gray and her staff for all the work they performed in helping the US delegation prepare for this conference.

I'd also like to thank the National Safety Council staff who also played a role in helping to organize this event.

Please join me in a round of applause for the effort of the staffs of both the EU and US delegations.

Also, on behalf of the entire US delegation, I'd like to thank Mr. Snare and Steve Witt for their personal leadership in this entire effort. I'd also like to recognize those of you who have served as chairs, co-chairs, and scribes. Your dedication, collaboration and commitment to this event were instrumental in its success.

Finally, I want to thank all of the attendees. This is important and vital work that will benefit workers today and in the future. You have worked hard. You are to be commended.

The purpose of this 4th US-EU Joint Conference on Occupational Health and Safety, organized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor, and the European Commission, was to provide a bilateral, tripartite forum for exchanging views and good practices on major issues of common interest and relevance to both sides of the Atlantic in the area of Occupational Safety and Health.

The work groups that were organized to allow for active discussion of these issues:

  • The Global Management of Chemicals,
  • Advancing Good Practices in Health and Safety at the Corporate Level
  • Immigrant Workers' Safety and Health,
  • Contractor Safety,
  • and a special topic on Bilateral Cooperation and the VPP Pilot Project;

have reported back to us their recommendations. The reports from each of this year's workgroups have updated us as to our collective accomplishments as well as identified areas requiring greater attention, concentration and action.

Congratulations to:

  • The Global Management of Chemicals Work Group and your recommendations on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and the expansion of the GHS pilot to chemical mixtures; control banding; accuracy of safety data sheets.
  • The Work Group on Advancing Good Practices at the Corporate Level for recommending concrete steps to take before the next meeting and beyond to promote true best practices in worker health and safety.
  • The Immigrant Workers' Safety and Health Work Group and your recommendations to develop a survey and methodology for obtaining more data on immigrant workers on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in the area of injury and country of origin; communicating good practices with safety and EU and US health professionals; and additional support for more effective methods for reaching immigrant communities.
  • The Contractor Safety Work Group's recommendations for promoting good practices in contractor safety, more effective training of employees; strategies for overcoming language barriers; and better approaches to safety inspections.

We also had a special topic of discussion on a Bilateral Cooperation Pilot Project that was a result of your efforts at our last conference in 2003 in Greece. The VPP Ireland pilot project's tremendous progress since it was launched in Dublin in June 2004 is to be commended. A range of private companies drawn from both the North and South of Ireland have enthusiastically embraced the concept. We've seen results in improved networking and mentoring as well as plans for expanding and extending the program to the public sector in Ireland

I believe all of your efforts and these results demonstrate that real tangible work and will make a difference in workers lives in both the US and the EU.

I think we should all be proud of our efforts this week but still commit to real follow up to ensure our actions will have the desired impact. This work is important and it is important that we follow thru.

Finally, in closing let me commend the steering committee and workgroup members on the decision to hold this event just prior to the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work.

The World Congress, which is co-sponsored by the International Labor Office (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and held only every three years, is for the first time in its 50 year history taking place in the United States. The National Safety Council is proud to be serving as Congress Secretariat and host organization for this historic event.

Many of the topics addressed at this conference will be center stage next week at the World Congress: The impact of globalization, its opportunities and risks. Leadership in safety and health. Challenges in a changing world of work. Prevention as a value in a globalized world.

I hope that many of you are planning on attending the World Congress. I encourage each of you to seize this rare opportunity to advance the many outcomes of this meeting and truly have an impact on the world's safety and health experts, leaders and professionals.