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September 23, 2003

President George W. Bush
Executive Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) represents more than 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professionals dedicated to making sure that every worker has the best possible opportunity to go home healthy and safe each day from their jobs. The Society is the largest professional safety organization and, founded in 1911, has been in existence the longest.

ASSE applauds you for including in your Labor Day comments to the Ohio Operating Engineers in Richfield, Ohio, the statement that "we expect there to be a fair playing field when it comes to trade." Many of our members work in manufacturing and share the concern that, too often, the companies they work for must compete on an unfair playing field that favors manufacturing worksites in other countries. For our members who strive to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for their companies' employees, "unfair" specifically means that their employers' competitors in foreign companies far too often are exempt from providing even similar kinds of protections for worker health and safety that Americans enjoy. ASSE urges you to include the issue of worker safety, health and environmental protections when your Administration follows up on your stated expectation that there be a "fair playing field" when it comes to trade.

Our members report positive experiences in the past working with the Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs in beginning to move the issue of international occupational safety and health standards forward. ASSE hopes that effort can continue and that the regulatory enforcement of occupational safety and health measures be included in the Bureau's collection of comparative labor statistics reflected, for example, in its "Chartbook of International Labor Comparisons: United States, Europe, and Asia" available at The gathering and publication of such information would help measure the playing fields against which U.S. companies compete and help your Administration set adequate policies to achieve fairness.

ASSE is also pleased to see that the Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw is engaged with Canada and Mexico the Trinational Occupational Safety and Health Working Group. Our hope is that the issues addressed in this cooperative effort to improve worker safety and health in these three countries not only succeeds but also becomes an established expectation in our trade relations with all countries. Not only will American workers benefit by a fairer playing field for trade through such an effort, your Administration can help ensure that workers in other countries enjoy the protections from occupational safety, health and environmental threats that all people, no matter where they work, should be able to expect.

ASSE and its members stand ready to help you achieve this fair playing field. Our members include professionals who are already experienced in helping address occupational safety, health and environmental risks in other nations. We hope your Administration will see them as a uniquely capable resource as you move forward on this important issue.


James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP

cc: Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Labor
John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor

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