The rapidly accelerating proliferation of global safety and health rules, guidelines and other initiatives formulated outside of the United States by both governmental and non-governmental entities is having a dramatic impact on the policies and practices of U.S. businesses both abroad and domestically. Unfortunately, the key U.S. stakeholders in the occupational safety and health community are seriously threatened with being left behind in the debates over many key issues that will shape worker protection worldwide over the next decade or more. Up to now, U.S. business, labor, professional associations and government agencies responsible for establishing national safety and health policy have participated only at the margins of most global policy discussions on important safety and health issues.

In this paper, General Motors Corporation and ORC highlight the need to devote significantly more resources to, and become a much more active participant in, the development and implementation of initiatives that may have a global impact. General Motors is the world's largest automotive company and ORC is an international management consulting firm with more than 30 years experience assisting leading corporations improve their occupational safety and health programs and performance

The paper first explores GM's lessons learned from history and the development of a model depicting how emerging issues "gestate" over a period of time. This is done from the perspective of "you need to understand the past to prepare for the future." From those lessons, the company developed principles of what it takes to successfully participate in the new global drivers impacting their worldwide manufacturing facilities. Several case histories are illustrated.

The paper then provides background on ORC's conclusion that strong global drivers are forcing US business and industry to react to issues over which they have had little or no input - or even forewarning. Recommendations that would improve the level of involvement and leadership US Groups in global safety and health policy-making forums are offered. The paper concludes that all stakeholders in the U.S. occupational safety and health community must find new strategies and resources to become more fully engaged in the global policy debates over initiatives that are likely to affect the safety and health of workers in the U.S., as well as workers abroad.

GM Experience
To 'Em/For 'Em/With 'Em

In recent years, a GM VP and General Manager made numerous presentations on how industry is moving toward a collaborative manufacturing competitiveness. The title "To 'Em/For 'Em/With 'Em" provides a quick overview of GM's history from the 1960s to the present and beyond. Briefly summarized, leadership styles can be characterized by the following:

Table (available in full paper).

Not surprisingly, occupational health and safety followed the same kind of path.

GM's Safety History

General Motors Corporation, long the world's largest manufacturing company, has had a global presence for over 80 years.

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