Globetrotting safety and health emissary discusses “pitiless, globalized economy”
Monday afternoon at the 2015 AIHce in Salt Lake City features the annual Jeffrey S. Lee Lecture, this year given by Garrett Brown, titled, “Two Decades Spent Helping Workers Protect Their Own Health and Safety in a Pitiless, Globalized Economy.”
Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH, is a retired special assistant to the Chief of Cal/OSHA, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Says Brown: “Although the world economy has been ‘global’ for centuries, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement marked a formal transition of the U.S. economy to increasing use of and reliance on global supply chains. The ‘off-shoring’ of manufacturing of many consumer goods has meant a transfer of occupational health and safety hazards to countries that lack the political will and resources (financial, technical and human) to protect workers on the ever-expanding factory floors outside the developed world.
“In 1993, the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network (MHSSN) was established to provide workers in global supply chains and their organizations with information, training and technical assistance of key occupational health and safety hazards, controls and concepts. The goal has always been to build the OHS capacity of local organizations so that workers can speak and act on their own behalf to prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths on the job. The experience of the MHSSN in Mexico, Central America, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh highlights lessons of this capacity-building effort, and controversies surrounding global supply chain business models and the actual impact of corporate social responsibility programs.”
The globe-trotting Brown is having a busy AIHce. He’s also participating in a Monday afternoon three-hour International Affairs Committee meeting, with an agenda point on Bangladesh. On Tuesday, June 2nd, he will be at an open meeting on “OHS Projects in Bangladesh and How We Can Help;” and later will give an IGNITE presentations on Bangladesh. On Wednesday, June 3rd, Brown will participate in a Lunch Table Top talk: Update on Efforts to Improve OHS Capacity in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry; immediately followed by an open meeting of Workplace Health Without Borders.
Brown is also the 2015 recipient of the William Steiger Memorial Award, given each year by the ACGIH®. The award honors individuals from the social/political sphere whose efforts have contributed to advancements in occupational safety and health. William Steiger was a House Republican from Wisconsin who co-sponsored the legislation creating OSHA. He died at age 40 in 1978.
Stated the ACGIH®; “Brown has spent most of his career advocating for safe and healthy workplaces in the United States and abroad. He has participated in trainings in Indonesia with labor, women's groups, human rights and community-based NGOs and with trade unions and Central American Republics in Guatemala on safety and health issues in the workplace. In 2010, Mr. Brown led a multi-disciplinary team of occupational health professionals to establish the world's first genuinely ‘no sweat’ garment factory in the Dominican Republic. In 2014, Mr. Brown made three trips to Dhaka, Bangladesh to assist with the Accord for Fire and Building Safety, established to protect workers in the country's garment industry. He participated in health and safety training for managers, supervisors, workers, union leaders, and the staff of the Accord itself.”