I noticed a new feature on OSHA’s website this morning, a countdown to the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety.  Today’s notice says *43 Days Left* which seems to be OSHA’s way of saying “you better register now or you might miss out on something worthwhile.”   The trouble is, we have to take OSHA’s word that the event will be worthwhile.  The currently available  information about the 2-day conference is as vague as it was 6 weeks ago when the event was first announced.   The closest thing to a schedule of events:

“the conference will convene at 1:00 pm on April 14th and end at 4:00 pm on April 15th”

but not a hint on the format, such as whether there will be speeches and debates, or round-table discussions and hands-on workshops. 

  • If the conference will feature lectures or presentations by experts, who are these speakers and what should a participant expect to learn? 
  • Will there be experts available to provide advice on specific worker H&S topics?
  • If I am a worker representative in North Carolina, Michigan or another State that runs its own OSH program, will officials from my State Plan be attending?       

For those who may be considering paying for travel and hotel expenses, and possibly foregoing several days’ wages to attend the OSHA event, they may need just a few more details to convince them it will be worth the investment.   Potential attendees may just need a few tidbits of info to help them decide whether they should attend, such as:  

  • If there are break-out sessions planned, on what topics and how many people will be able to participate? 
  • How will participants be involved in developing the advertised “working agenda to prevent injury and death among Latino workers”?  
  • If I work with a different group of at-risk workers is there a reason for me to attend?

I’ve heard mixed reaction from my colleagues in the OHS community about whether the planning and conduct of a major conference is a productive way for OSHA to spend its scarce time and talent.   Someone obviously decided it is worth the effort. 

Since then, I’m sure the planners have been spending a gazillion hours working out all the details.  They will be doing so undoubtedly until the doors open on the event on April 14.   In the meantime, they might consider making public a few more specifics about the schedule of events.  This will help 

  • individuals decide whether the summit will meet their particular needs
  • organizations determine if a staff member should attend, and
  • collaborators identify potential opportunities created by participating in it.