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Cross-border safety issues discussed in Mexico City

OSHA chief John Henshaw met recently 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 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 the Trinational Web page.

Possible future cooperative activities include:

  • 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 about 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.

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 group.

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.

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