Photo: Henrietta Van hulle – PSHSA Director, Alicia Westfall – McMaster University Health & Safety Specialist, Lisa Morine – Senior Manager, Health, Safety and Risk Management, McMaster University during NAOSH week.
NAOSH Week – North American Occupational Safety and Health Week – was first launched in June 1997, marked by an agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. CSSE’s Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Week (COHS) had been observed for ten years previously (1986-1996). During the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks between the governments of Mexico, United States, and Canada, workplace safety within the boundaries of all three nations was discussed by government labour department representatives. Canada’s representative at these talks was familiar with Canada’s COHS Week and suggested to his Mexican and American counterparts that their countries may wish to become involved in a similar endeavor.
Subsequently, CSSE was approached for permission and support to expand the COHS Week format and experience to Mexico and the United States. After many meetings between Labour Canada and the CSSE COHS Committee in 1995, the proposal to expand the COHS format into the North American arena was formalized with the CSSE Board of Directors at their spring 1996 meeting. It was agreed that CSSE would adopt the North American concept and implement it in place of the Canadian Week. Labour Canada agreed to ensure that CSSE was the officially recognized safety organization responsible for NAOSH Week. Labour Canada would also play the lead political role for North America for three years, after which there would be a review. CSSE was responsible for all management, marketing, policy, administration, etc. related to NAOSH Week, and was deemed the proprietor and governing body.
In September 1996, the agreement was taken to the NAFTA meeting and all parties agreed to the proposal. NAOSH Week was established. NAOSH Week was and implemented under this agreement between 1997 and 2000.
Since 2000, the responsibility and management of NAOSH Week has continued under CSSE’s leadership. Partnering with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS), and the Labour Program of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), and Threads of Life. CSSE works hard to promote and encourage the goals of NAOSH. Along with the efforts of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), NAOSH Week continues to be a truly continent-wide event.