Orlando, FL – Challenging the world’s safety and health experts to make the world a safer place for workers and their families in every country and in every occupation, Alan C. McMillan, secretariat of the 17th World Congress and president and CEO of the National Safety Council, closed the World Congress with a vision statement: “Prevention: Today’s value for tomorrow’s world.”
Each year, an estimated 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million work-related illnesses are reported around the world, McMillan told an audience of more than 3,000 attendees, from more than 100 countries and six continents. In many developing nations, though, occupational safety remains largely reactive to injuries and illnesses sustained in the workplace.
“We heard throughout the week’s sessions that making the world of work safer and healthier is as simple and as profoundly complex as these three things: securing top management’s commitment to safety and health; involving employees in developing a safety culture; and integrating safety and health fully into normal business planning and operations,” McMillan shared.
“Workplace injuries in the U.S. have been dramatically reduced. Injury-related deaths in the workplace have declined 93 percent since the council’s founding in 1912,” said McMillan in remarks following the opening session of the World Congress. This is especially remarkable, according to McMillan, considering that the work force has quadrupled and produces nine times the goods and services today that it did nearly a century ago. However, as workplace injuries decline, there is a heavy increase in the number of injuries occurring in homes and communities in the U.S.
During the Congress, four main themes emerged from the hundreds of formal and informal gatherings:
- There is a measurable, positive correlation between safety and health and business performance, with one study showing that for every dollar invested in safety and health, companies realize $3 in benefit.
- Large businesses have both a responsibility for, and an interest in, using their influence to raise safety and health standards among their supply chain of small- and medium-sized enterprises. Throughout the supply chain, there are economic and corporate social responsibility links.
- Globalization is not only here to stay, its influence is widespread and has a critical impact on safety and health. For example, many workers now work long hours, increasing their exposure to more occupational hazards, and work has become more stressful and less secure, creating more mental health risks. Figuring out how to solve the negative impact on workers is key to helping all people realize the great economic potential for economic growth and quality of life.
- While there is a great deal of information about workplace safety and health developed, more attention needs to be paid to making that information simple, applicable and accessible to professionals worldwide.
McMillan concluded by focusing on concrete steps that can be taken now. “We – business, labor and government leaders – need to work together to find creative solutions, reverse the current fatality trends, and help the world become a safer and healthier place. Nations with lessons and resources to share have a special responsibility to reach out to nations who need our help. In addition to just playing our role in the family of nations and growing as individuals, this sharing will benefit us all in terms of political and trade goals.”
The theme of this year’s Congress, which was held for the first time in the U.S., was “Prevention in a Globalized World -- Success through Partnerships.” The theme emphasized the need for all countries to “come together as one global community with unique distinctions as well as common interests and needs,” according to McMillan.
The World Congress is held every three years in locations around the world. Past host cities include Stockholm, Hamburg, New Delhi, Madrid, Sao Paulo and Vienna. With the first World Congress being held in Rome in 1955, this years’ meeting celebrated the Congress’ 50th Anniversary. The next World Congress, in 2008, will be held in Seoul, Korea.
NSC's 93rd Annual Congress & Expo was also held in conjunction with the World Congress. U. S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao delivered the keynote address. This year’s theme for the Expo was “Global Reach, Local Impact,” reflecting “the growing importance and relevance of safety, and safety professionals, in the United States and throughout the world,” according to McMillan.
NSC, the United Nations’ International Labour Office (ILO), and the International Social Security Association (ISSA), jointly organize the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, the first to be held in the U.S. DuPont, a global science company, is the premier sponsor.
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads through leadership, research, education and advocacy.