Midwestern Magic

Chicago welcomes the National Safety Council's 91st annual Congress early this month.

The lavish feast of summer festivals in Chicago, alas, has just finished. From June's Taste of Chicago through the monumental, free, 25th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival in Grant Park at the end of August, the Second City did its best to showcase the culture and attractions that set it apart. Need I mention Chicago's 7,000 restaurants and its selection in July 2003 as America's most exceptional dining destination by the editors of Robb Report magazine?

Chicago is an exciting, eclectic convention city. It is a favorite stop for the National Safety Congress, which returns this month to the lakeside McCormick Center with its 91st edition. The dates are Sept. 5-12, including the Sept. 8-10 exposition. With increased attendance reported by several other safety conferences this year and an early fall date in Chicago as the lure, Congress 2003 looks to be a strong show.

Congress Highlights
We can expect a full house for this year's Opening Ceremonies (8-9:30 a.m. Monday, September 8) because of the caliber of the speaker: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. His department includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and several other agencies that have major responsibility for the nation's safety and security. DHS is busily distributing billions of dollars in federal aid for emergency responders, and Ridge's speech can be expected to outline priorities and new initiatives in this area.

Presenting the Occupational Keynote on Tuesday, September 9 (also taking place from 8-9:30 a.m.) will be OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. The National Safety Council had not announced the September 10 environmental keynote speaker by press time for this issue.

This Congress offers an all-day International Fall Protection Symposium on Thursday, September 11 and again on Friday, September 12. Professional Development Seminars on the program this year will provide expert guidance on safety management in general and specific topics such as ergonomics, forklift operations, CPR training, Job Safety Analysis, confined spaces, and lockout/tagout. At least six sessions will be offered in English and Spanish, including Contractor Safety and Managing Contract Labor (Monday, 1:30-3 p.m.); Handling Hazardous Chemicals and Biological Agents (Tuesday, 10-11:30 a.m.); and Incident Investigation--Electric Safety (Wednesday, 10-11:30 a.m.).

Expo Hours & Attractions
National Safety Council President Alan McMillan has called Congress the perfect venue to showcase employers' "culture of safety." Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The council is trying two methods to increase traffic during the expo's first two days: It will provide snacks on the floor of the expo from 3 to 3:30 p.m. and has set aside two hours, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., without sessions or major activities.

About 800 exhibitors filled 160,000 square feet of space at the 2002 expo in San Diego, with exhibitors and attendees registering from all 50 states and 57 foreign countries, according to NSC. It is the largest U.S. expo in safety and health and one of the largest meetings of its kind in the world. The Congress returns to New Orleans next year (September 10-17, 2004) and then shifts to Orlando (September 18-25, 2005).

This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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