Labor officers from island nations and U.S. jurisdictions in the Pacific joined hundreds of local employers and workers for the opening of the Governor's 3rd Annual Health and Safety Conference yesterday.
Previously a CNMI-wide event, the annual conference on occupational health and safety was expanded this year to a regional event attended by representatives from Hawaii, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
Leading the off-island delegation was Hawaii's labor director Nelson Befitel, who provided the keynote address during the opening ceremonies.
In his speech, Befitel maintained that a safe and healthy work environment benefits not only the workers, but the employers and the government as well.
“From a management and government perspective, there is no better return, financially and morally, than a workforce that is educated in safety and health and a worksite that is free from unnecessary hazards. As employers, you realize an immediate return because a safe and healthy workforce translates to higher productivity and lower health care costs,” he said.
“From an employee perspective, knowing that the worksite is safe and healthy promotes a trusting relationship with their employer, worker satisfaction, and removes any threat of workplace hazards that can and should be avoided,” he added.
Befitel also shared efforts being made by the labor office in Hawaii to ensure safety and health in the workplace. Partnerships and cooperative programs are key to this goal, he said.
Gov. Juan N. Babauta and Occupational Safety and Health Administration Region 9 administrator Frank Strasheim also addressed the conference.
The conference is held at the World Resort Saipan Hotel and will run through Friday, Aug. 19. Panel discussions on environmental, health, public safety, and other topics will be held every morning.
Afternoon breakout training sessions will be held in three separate tracks: construction industry, general industry, and public sector training, where participants can receive OSHA 502 and 503 certification.
First aid and CPR training in English, Tagalog, and Mandarin Chinese, as well as maritime and shipyard training will be held on Friday.