U.S. and Mexican Occupational Safety and Health Experts Meet

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw chaired the inaugural session of the United States-Mexico Bilateral Occupational Safety and Health Working Group, which opened in Mexico City last week for a two-day session. The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Alberto Aguilar Salinas, Mexican director general of safety and health.

The working group agreed to establish technical expert subgroups to foster ongoing cooperation by the governments in four key areas of occupational safety and health: handling of hazardous substances; safety and health management systems and voluntary protection programs; training of technical assistance staff and possibly inspectors; and the development of a tri-national (United States-Mexico-Canada) web page for ongoing exchanges of information and good practices.

Mexican Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare Carlos Maria Abascal Carranza opened the inaugural session by emphasizing the important role that occupational safety and health plays in Mexico, and the benefits that result from bilateral collaboration in this area. Abascal stressed commitment he shares with U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, that the establishment of the working group settles the occupational safety and health issues raised in public submissions US 9702, 9703, 9901, 2000-01 and MEX 9804. The submissions were filed with the U.S. and Mexican governments under terms of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), the labor side agreement to NAFTA.

The working group discussed and reviewed occupational safety and health trends and priorities, safety and health management systems, methods for compliance evaluation, voluntary programs and workplace joint safety and health committees. The working group agreed to meet again in October 2002 in San Diego, Calif. to define the parameters for the technical expert subgroups in each of the four areas. The subgroups will begin their work shortly thereafter and make reports to the working group.

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