Within the United States, there are more than seven million establishments in private industry employing a workforce of 110 million workers. Given the number of workplaces and the diversity of operations and conditions across the spectrum of industries, no one agency can address the myriad of workplace hazards entirely through regulatory standards. Yet many of these hazards and concerns are being addressed by a mechanism beyond the arena of governmental policy and regulations. Consensus standards-the goal of many individuals and organizations with interests in promoting environmental and workplace safety and health-became the topic of a forum at AIHce in San Diego. "Nonregulatory standard-setting bodies begin to fill the gap, providing voluntary consensus standards and guidelines, and encouraging public/ private partnerships," noted forum moderator Marie Haring Sweeney, NIOSH, Cincinnati. Appropriately enough, consensus by definition implies agreement, and the establishment of consistent and practical guidelines using a process involving multiple stakeholders is a relevant example of powerful partnerships, the theme of this year's conference.
EID, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH 45226