|OSHA Assistant Secretary Meets with International Counterparts
To Discuss Workplace Safety
WASHINGTON -- Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational
Health and Safety John Henshaw this week met with the other
leaders of the Trinational Occupational Safety and Health
Working Group, Dr. Alberto Aguilar Salinas, Mexican director
general for workplace safety and health, and Gerry Blanchard,
Canadian director general for operations. The three workplace
safety officials met in Mexico City to review the results
of the Occupational Safety and Health Working Group's activities
over the past year and to consider proposals for future activities.
"The Trinational Occupational Safety and Health Working
Group is an important vehicle for collaboration among our
three countries to improve workplace safety and health in
North America," said Assistant Secretary Henshaw. "The
work that this group has done and is about to do will provide
tremendous benefit to workers in our respective countries."
The working group leaders acknowledged the accomplishments
of the four subgroups -- Occupational Safety and Health Management
Systems and Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), Handling
of Hazardous Substances, Inspector and Technical Assistance
Staff Training, and Trinational Web Page. The leaders also
agreed to possible future cooperative activities, including:
a best-practice workshop on ergonomics in the automotive sector;
recognition of companies with effective safety and health
management systems; consideration of a globally harmonized
system for the classification and labeling of chemicals; and
training Mexican inspectors and technical assistance staff
on machine guarding and pressure vessels and boilers.
In addition to the working group meetings, a one-day workshop
on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling
of Chemicals (GHS) was held with approximately 30 representatives
from the three countries, including various Mexican ministries.
Presentations included an overview of chemical hazard communication
in Mexico, a presentation on the GHS system, and discussion
of GHS implementation issues in the three countries.
The three leaders also shared experiences and best practices
in each country's construction industry at a two and a half
day seminar, Aug. 26-28. Representatives from government,
industry and labor exchanged information on training methods,
procedures, and management systems that have been effective
in reducing work-related accidents and illnesses in the industry.
Recent cooperative activities of the working group include
training of nearly 100 Mexican inspectors from 32 states on
fire protection and life safety and electrical power generation
and a tripartite workshop on best practices in the manufacturing
industry with a focus on the automotive sector. A Trinational
Web site will soon be launched to provide more information
about past and future cooperative activities of the working
A meeting on the rights of migrant workers in the United
States also took place during the week. The meeting allowed
members from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to exchange information
and improve collaboration on efforts to protect migrant workers.
It is part of an ongoing exchange among the U.S. Department
of Labor, Mexico's Foreign Ministry, and the Mexican embassy
and consulates in the U. S. to establish local partnerships
around the United States where there are large numbers of