Itasca, IL – Each year, an estimated 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million work-related illnesses are reported around the world. In many developing nations, occupational safety remains largely reactive to injuries and illnesses sustained in the workplace. In developed countries, where decades of occupational safety programs focused on prevention have dramatically reduced workplace injuries, advances in technology, shifting demographics and a growing immigrant workforce are presenting new challenges for workplace safety and health.
As the global economic and humanitarian consequences of workplace injuries are being realized by businesses, governments and labor groups, experts are calling for greater recognition of the role that workplace safety and health must play in sustaining international economic and social development in the 21st century.
These issues will take center stage at the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, Sept. 18-22 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The event, Prevention in a Globalized World Success through Partnerships, is jointly organized by the National Safety Council, and the United Nations International Labor Organization and International Social Security Association.
According to World Congress organizers, much of the discussion will focus on meeting the diverse safety and health needs of the developing world as well as on new and emerging safety and health challenges confronting industrialized nations.
"Injury prevention is no longer a luxury for the developed world," said Alan C. McMillan, President and CEO of NSC and Secretariat for this year´s World Congress. "As populations grow and economies develop, millions throughout the world are taking on new jobs and new risks like never before. Safety and health cannot remain on the backburner as an option in doing business. The well-being of workers and their families must be at the forefront, a core business value, in all industries, in every corner of the world."
The more than 600 research submissions being presented at the World Congress are as diverse as the more than 50 countries from five continents they represent. From establishing safe occupational health services in Kabul, to curbing the work-related injuries on the urban streets of Managua, to managing stress in the global workplace, the need for improved safety and health is pervasive.
"The transfer of modern working methods and technologies must go hand-in-hand with the transfer of rules and strategies to protect workers from risk," says Dalmer Hoskins, ISSA Secretary General. "Unfortunately, approximately 80 percent of the world´s population still is not adequately protected."
The aim of this year´s World Congress, being held in the United States for the first time, is to strengthen partnerships among governments, employers, workers, non-government organizations, and safety and health professionals to improve workplace safety and health throughout the world.
"There has been progress on many fronts in the world of work, but work-related deaths, accidents and diseases are still major causes for concern," said Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General. "Among the goals for this World Congress is to build on existing international safety benchmarks and strengthen global partnerships to ensure that 21st century work is also 21st century safe."
To ensure the event reflects a tripartite representation of government, labor and industry, and emphasizes a plurality of viewpoints particularly those in the developing world more than 50 safety and trade associations, private and public sector labor groups, and educational, professional and scientific organizations serve on the National Organizing Committee.
"The World Congress provides an international platform for identifying emerging issues as well as the examination of current practices in occupational safety and health," explained Mei-Li Lin, Ph.D., executive director of Research and Statistical Services, NSC. "We hope to conclude the week speaking with one voice, united in the same vision to create a safer and healthier work environment for the global workforce and to build a sustaining culture of prevention around the world."
ISSA President Corazon de la Paz, Assane Diop, ILO executive director, social protection sector, and Luz Maritza Tennassee, regional advisor on Workers´ Health, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, will provide international perspectives on workplace safety during opening ceremonies Sun., Sept. 18 beginning at 4 p.m.
Frederick G. Gregory, Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is the evening´s featured speaker.
On Wed., Sept. 21, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Chairman and CEO of DuPont Charles O. Holliday, and Edward G. Galante, Senior Vice President, Exxon Mobil Corporation, will provide opening remarks at NSC's 93rd Annual Congress and Expo an NSC annual event taking place in conjunction with the World Congress.
The National Safety Council (www.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.