The congress began with opening remarks from the host organizations including Dr. Cameron Mustard (Institute for Work & Health), Mrs. Anne Tennier (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety), Mr. Guy Rider (International Labour Organization) and Dr. Joachim Breuer (International Social Security Association).
Artistic Director and Co-Head of the Toronto International Film Festival Cameron Bailey joined the conversation, encouraging delegates to embrace the power of storytelling. “Stories resonate because we understand how things are connected,” Bailey said.
Throughout the first day, important topics were explored, like how remote work has provided new challenges and opportunities for employers to consider, or the thought-provoking presentations about the accomplishments of the global Vision Zero initiative in many countries around the world.
The first day concluded with seven symposia discussing topics of contemporary concern, including: innovations in OSH governance, how effective messages can help make Vision Zero a reality, the urgent issue of violence and harassment at work, mental health at work and so much more. Delegates were invited to continue these conversations in dedicated virtual “Conversation Cafes” where speakers joined in to expand on some of their thoughts.
If all that wasn’t enough, the end of the first day saw more than 100 Braindates scheduled with more than 600 people ready to start their own conversations on topics close to their heart.
Day 2 was another day full of connections, engagement and a lot of great OSH discussions. The stage was set by Congress president Dr. Cameron Mustard, as he recapped the first day and looked forward to the upcoming sessions. NIOSH’s Dr. John Howard provided a captivating presentation on how information and communication technology is rapidly changing the world of work, and the implications of these changes for the protection of worker health.
During the Technical Sessions, the delegates explored the main topics of the Congress even further. OSH resilience and sustainability in enterprises posited that this emerging concept held the potential to enhance an organization’s capacity to respond to complex risk management situations, while the other technical session COVID-19 and the protection of workers: lessons from the global pandemic expanded on how millions of workers have adjusted to the ongoing pandemic.
The International Media Festival for Prevention invited delegates to gather for the official watch party, where they viewed previews of the 18 short-listed best-in-show nominees for outstanding OSH communication in a variety of forms of media.
Delegates heard from speakers in seven more symposia covering topics such as new thinking about prevention of occupational cancer, and how new digital tools could help make real time OSH decisions. Other symposia conversations included prevention and protection in global supply chains, roadway safety in the age of automated vehicles, the pitfalls of informal economy and how it targets vulnerable workers and more! The day wrapped up with speakers connecting again directly with delegates through the Conversation Cafes.
Day 3 was a special one as we kicked off the events with the 2021 IMFP Special Media Session, virtually travelling around the world to join cheerful nominees and winners as they found out who took home the award in the six award categories.
We heard great examples from around the world of innovations in tripartite governance of occupational health and safety during one of Day 3’s technical sessions, including the perspective of three Canadians who shaped the deliberations the led to ILO convention 190 on workplace violence and harassment. Session speakers also described a powerful tripartite initiative to strengthen OSH practices in the New Zealand forestry sector and an initiative in Singapore to strengthen OSH in small and medium-sized enterprises. The second technical session OSH in the Digital World acknowledged just how much of a game changer digital transformation has been for the way we work and live, while exploring how changes like automation can continue to transform the workforce.
The spotlight shifted to the next generation as Youth Champions from across the world gathered to offer their point of view on the changing world around them, and how they’re challenging those around them that don’t think young workers are as involved or interested in the OSH regulations.
In the symposia, delegates chose from a variety of topics including safety culture in agriculture and food production, how to effectively integrate people with disabilities in the workforce, how global collaborative efforts are helping to advance Vision Zero, and more.
The day wrapped up with a powerful keynote from activist and entrepreneur Maayan Ziv, who stressed the importance of allowing people with diverse experiences the opportunity to have a seat at the table. She stressed that different perspectives can be a powerful tool and an incomparable asset when creating something new.
The last day of the Congress got off to an exciting start, with conversations about exploring how the prevention community came together to ensure the health and safety of millions of essential workers during COVID-19 in critical sectors like health care, logistics and electrical power generation. The session looked at the lessons learned, and the actions that can be taken to protect the health and safety of essential workers in the future.
After that great start, the Global Forum for Work Injury Insurance provided an opportunity to discuss the global challenges that accident insurance systems are facing today. It was a great way to exchange information and share best practices from across the world.
The day then continued with two more keynotes. The first, The Power of Leadership by Dr. Elizabeth Nkumbula looked at the importance of thinking globally and using leadership to advance prevention culture by influencing the culture beyond the walls of one’s own workplace. The second keynote, For the Brighter Future of Work discussed the importance of investments in key areas: people’s capabilities, institutions of work and sustainable, decent work. Prof. Seike explained how these investments can help shape human-centred work in a time of structural changes.
Finally the day wrapped up with our closing session. The Congress MC Lois Lee remarked on the valuable connections made during the Congress before Dr. Joachim Breuer, ISSA Secretary General, Ms. Vera Paquete-Perdigão, Director of the Governance and Tripartism Department at the ILO and Ms. Anne Tennier, President CCOHS provided closing reflections and remarks. We also heard from other esteemed experts, including Hon. Hanna Sarkkinen, Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health who expressed Finland’s commitment to the conversation that had occurred the last four days.
Dr. Mustard concluded: "Across many, many sessions, speakers reminded us that successful occupational health and safety initiatives at the workplace, or in an economic sector, or at the level of national policy will only succeed if the initiatives are developed with the participation of workers and their representatives, I would hope that all of us carry this key principle forward in our work."
As the Congress came to an end, the ceremonial handover allowed Canada to say goodbye to the OSH community but not before inviting them to gather once more in Australia in November of 2023.