|Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA
FTAA - COMMITTEE OF
GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN AND ONGOING INVITATION
Comments of the American
Industrial Hygiene Association to the
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) appreciates the opportunity to forward our comments on the Free Trade Area of the Americas Agreement to its Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society as they pertain to occupational safety and health. We are the largest professional organization of industrial hygienists in the world, representing 12,000 members primarily in the United States and Canada. Industrial hygienists, as occupational health professionals, provide scientific and technical expertise and perform critical on-site recognition, evaluation, and control of worker health and safety hazards to workers, communities and the environment.
AIHA fully supported the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) due in large part, to its commitment toward improving the environmental and occupational safety and health conditions of the workplaces in North America. NAFTA wisely incorporated meaningful occupational, health and safety protections and provided a means for measuring and enforcing compliance with them.
Our Association remains convinced that occupational safety and health should be a major concern in any continuing negotiations on the FTAA. We would ask that, as the FTAA moves through the negotiation process, occupational safety and health provisions comparable to those contained within NAFTA, are incorporated into the final draft. Further, any resulting treaty should also include similar mechanisms for compliance enforcement such as those provided under the Supplemental Agreements to NAFTA issued in September 1993.
These Supplemental Agreements contain important and specific methods by which compliance with occupational safety and health standards are promoted and ensured. It stipulates that each party will promote compliance by: appointing and training inspectors; raising public awareness of OEH&S requirements to enhance voluntary compliance; conducting on-site inspections to monitor compliance; investigating suspected violations; and, providing for appropriate forms of redress including fines, penalties, imprisonment and emergency workplace closure.
AIHA believes that the upward harmonization of occupational health and safety and environmental standards brought about by NAFTA must also be included and maintained in the FTAA. Equally important, enforcement mechanisms contained within the NAFTA Supplementary Agreements must also be included in any resulting trade agreement.
We strongly believe that the right of individual parties to the treaty to establish unilateral standards designed to protect the heath and safety of their citizens and the environment must be maintained. As a multinational professional association, AIHA will continue to work with professionals and governments alike to ensure that health, safety and environmental standards and subsequent enforcement mechanisms are improved and not compromised throughout the FTAA’s negotiation and resulting implementation processes.
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide our views and we look forward to working together with all interested parties as the trade negotiation process continues.
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