I have had the opportunity to connect with many health and safety professionals at this year’s AIHce conference in Montreal, Québec. “La Belle Province” has served as a wonderful backdrop to poignant discussions, networking, and information exchanges which promote greater effectiveness amongst all of us.
Despite the value these events provide and given our current economic climate, it appears that organizations have pared back their commitment of resources to these technical and professional events – all at a time that our challenges are only increasing – and some attendees expressed to me their concerns that staff professional development will lag behind the rest of the world without attendance at events like these.
I also observed the proportion of professionals that are near retirement age; I’m not sure I stood in any small gathering where there wasn’t someone discussing retirement. This potential loss of expertise and experience should be of concern to all in the industry. The high watermark of hiring in the U.S. at OSHA, according to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labour, was in the 70s. These professionals have progressed in their careers and are now preparing to retire, giving us limited time for succession planning and knowledge transfer.
We need to start looking forward now to address these pressing issues.
From left to right: Maureen Shaw, Steve Horvath, Shirley Hickman, and Julian Hughes (Executive Director of the Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum in New Zealand).
I was disappointed that I could not attend the Hamilton Steps for Life walk in support of Threads of Life as I was in Vancouver for meetings. However, it provided me the opportunity to participate in the Burnaby, BC event and to walk alongside Shirley Hickman, founder of Threads of Life, and Maureen Shaw, who was responsible for the original Steps for Life walk in Toronto. I was heartened to see how this movement has been embraced by communities right across the country.
All Threads of Life volunteers are committed to helping families who have suffered tragedies in their lives and freely give their time to support the organization.
This year, the Steps for Life walk was held in 32 communities across Canada. Even smaller communities like Lethbridge had 1200 participants and raised $60,000.
Congratulations and thank you to every person who participated and volunteered.
I am very pleased to be helping launch NAOSH Week 2012 at Centennial College on Monday, May 7th with our health and safety partners. This marks 16 years that employers, workers and governments across North America have taken the time to promote the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace.
The theme of NAOSH week this year is “Making it Work”. It reminds us that we all need to not only plan, but act. We need to constantly create awareness of these issues throughout our daily routines at work, at home and in our communities, and it is forums such as this that make this possible.
Our successes in achieving the goals of NAOSH week will result in eliminating fatalities, injuries and diseases from the workplace.
I attended the “Day of Mourning” ceremony this past Sunday, April 29th. It was a solemn ceremony, with emotional speeches of loss and remembrance. What made this ceremony particularly poignant for me was that this is the 20th anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster that occurred on May 9, 1992 in Nova Scotia. 26 lives were lost in one of Canada’s great tragedies. It reminded me that, as well as those lost to these tragedies, this is also a day to remember the surviving family members who are still living with the pain of these tragic events, and to rededicate ourselves to the elimination of workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
The 26 miners that were killed at the Westray Mines were members of the Steelworkers’ Union, and Nancy Hutchinson, who is also a member of CCOHS’s Council of Governors, spoke on behalf of the USW in an emotional “call to action” to ensure these types of disasters do not occur again.
Greetings from the AIHce conference in “laid-back” Portland. Beautiful city with water and greenery, and an abundance of biking/jogging paths – with surfing and kayaking too. It is a city where young people come to retire.
The gift boxes await the guest arrivals.
The conference has thousands of attendees and our booth has been well attended. There are a lot of questions by US technical people about GHS. They are asking us what we think OSHA and the Canadian government will do. They see us as unbiased and knowledgeable.
CCOHS is sponsoring its 14th Canadian Night at the AIHC conference tonight. It is the venue for Canadians to network and re-establish old friendships. The evening is now again sold out. Looking forward to it!