Special AIHce Series Takes Aim at Eliminating Global Sweatshop Conditions

A special, day-long set of panels on improving working conditions in global supply chains will be held on Tuesday, June 2, at AIHce 2009 in Toronto. The goal of the series, which will feature a wide range of speakers addressing the dangerous and unhealthy conditions that millions of workers face every day, is to involve industrial hygienists in improving factory conditions in the developing world. The panel series is being jointly organized by four AIHA Technical Committees—International Affairs, Management, Social Concerns, and Stewardship & Sustainability—a rare commingling of resources that conference organizers say testifies to the importance AIHA members place on combating global sweatshops.

Panelists will propose projects to improve factory conditions in the developing world on several levels by partnering with governments, universities, transnational corporations, national employers, and worker organizations including trade unions and community-based groups. The variety of speakers involved in the series—representatives from worker advocate groups to transnational corporations—will present key issues integral to implementing effective, sustainable workplace safety programs.

The first panel, at 10:30 a.m., is titled “Global Supply Chains and Social Responsibility: The Health and Safety Issues.” Speakers will include Edward Quevedo, the keynote speaker of that morning’s General Session; David Stangis of the Campbell Soup Company; Garrett Brown of Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network); Janice Camp of the University of Washington; and John Mulhausen of 3M Inc.

The second panel, at 2 p.m., is titled “Global Supply Chains and Social Responsibility: Lessons Learned and IH Activism.” Speakers will include Ashay Ajgaonkar of Applied Materials Inc.; Lynda Yanz of Maquila Solidarity Network; Maharshi Mehta of ISS-Inda; Mark Katchen of Phylmar Group Inc.; Scott Nova of the Workers Rights Consortium; and Richard Hirsh of Stiefel Laboratories Inc.

Immediately following the afternoon panel, a networking session is planned for 5 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to meet the day’s speakers and learn about opportunities to get involved.

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