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26/07/2010

Agency hosts high-level visit of US-OSHA

Tim Tregenza

The United States' Occupational Safety and Health Administration (US-OSHA) made a high-level visit to the Agency in July 2010 in advance of the EU-US conference in Boston later in the year. US-OSHA, part of the United States Department of Labor, was created in 1970 to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

Represented by Dorothy Doughtery (director of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance), William Perry (deputy-director of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance, and Jacquelyn DeMesme-Gray (coordinator of international affairs), the "two OSHAs" exchanged information, plans, and ideas on how to make workplaces safer and healthier. What was apparent was that despite the very different legislative and cultural situations in the United States and Europe, many of the challenges remain the same - in particular finding ways to disseminate information to the workplace and to support small and medium enterprises in their safety and health management.

Many Agency staff attended the meeting to hear how US-OSHA works and about the different approaches it takes. The discussions were particularly interesting given the role OSHA was playing in the response to the BP oil spill. In turn, EU-OSHA gave presentations on its work, with ESENER project being of particular interest along with how the EU approach the prevention of harm to workers arising from chemical risks.

The meeting was joined by Andre Marcet from the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment when the online interactive risk assessment tool (OiRA) was presented. The participative approach to the tool's development was put into the European triparatite context, its flexibility and accessibility provoking much interest in our American visitors.