Oregon OSHA's

Health and Safety Resource

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February 2017

GOSH Conference: Why is the Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference important?

It's a place to go to refresh your commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. It's a place where you'll find local and national experts weighing in on how to go beyond reacting to hazards by building a sustainable culture of safety. It's a place to build relationships with others who share the same commitment to worker safety and health. It's the 35th biennial Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety & Health (GOSH) Conference, to be held March 6-9 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Registration is now open.

GOSH Conference logo

"This event provides a unique opportunity for organizations to breathe new life into their commitment to on-the-job safety and health," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "Everyone from professionals in the field to employers, supervisors and workers on the front lines can use GOSH as a fresh reminder of why workplace health and safety matters. Ultimately, it's about bringing people together to soak up new knowledge, discuss best safety and health practices, and to tackle emerging issues – all with the goal of sending workers home safe to their family and friends."

Offering 145 exhibit booths and more than 150 different workshops – and expected to attract 1,700 attendees – the event is the largest of its kind in the Northwest.

Todd Conklin

Safety is not the absence of events. Safety is the presence of defenses."

Todd Conklin

Keynote speaker Todd Conklin will present "Thinking Differently About Safety" on Tuesday, March 7. Conklin, who has a doctorate in organizational behavior, spent 25 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a senior advisor for organizational and safety culture. He speaks all over the world to executives, groups, and work teams who are interested in better understanding the relationship between workers in the field and an organization's systems, processes, and programs.

Conklin's presentation will focus on the human performance theory of safety, where investigations are conducted before accidents happen. "Safety is not the absence of events," he said. "Safety is the presence of defenses."

The GOSH conference is important because it will enable managers and workers to absorb and discuss "the new human performance theory of safety in a supportive environment," Conklin said. "A comparison and contrast between the old system of 'blame and fix' and the human performance theory of investigating before an accident happens can be presented."

A top goal of his presentation, Conklin said, is to "introduce the possibility of preventing 'post-event' learning and to focus instead on pre-accident investigation involving systems, managers, and workers."

The new safety theory, Conklin added, can "save a company money, and, most of all, save lives."


In addition to Conklin's presentation, the GOSH event will offer session tracks on many specialties, including:

  • Construction
  • Workplace violence prevention
  • Motor vehicle safety
  • Emergency response and preparedness
  • Communication and training
  • Utilities
  • Craft brewing and winemaking

Meanwhile, the Columbia Forklift Challenge will offer trained forklift drivers a chance to compete for cash, in an obstacle course designed to test their skills and safe operation.

Registration for the March 8 competition is now open.

A joint effort of the American Society of Safety Engineers Columbia-Willamette Chapter and Oregon OSHA, the GOSH conference offers "something for everyone," according to Luke Betts, senior safety management consultant for SAIF Corporation.

Since 2009, Betts has attended GOSH conferences either as a volunteer, participant, or both. He served as conference chair in 2013. And he's looking forward to being there again this year.

"There are multiple benefits for attendees," he said. "Although it is certainly aimed at the safety professional, it is also a conference for managers, supervisors, safety committee members, engineers, and really anyone interested in advancing their safety knowledge in a huge variety of subjects at different skill level


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