Recommendations for the future of the CIS: report from the group of CIS members' meeting

London, UK
10-11 September 2008

Those attending

In addition there were contributions by email and telephone from the following who would have liked to have attended the meeting but unfortunately could not.


During all our discussions we kept the following constantly in mind:

The Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, No. 187 and its accompanying Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Recommendation, 2006 No. 197 which is based on the ILO's Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health, will promote the development of a preventive safety and health culture through the elevation of occupational safety and health high on national agendas by launching national occupational safety and health programmes, as well as the promotion of safer and healthier working environments through preventive measures. The Convention 187 mentions that a national system for occupational safety and health should include, where appropriate... b) an information and advisory service (Article 4, para 3b).

In light of the 2008 Declaration of Seoul, Korea we are delighted that the CIS Network can play a vital active part in the future dissemination of occupational safety and health (OSH) dissemination and making people aware of the existence of the CIS Network and its constituent bodies.


Following on the recent years' CIS Annual Meetings, some members thought that it would be appropriate to meet and discuss ideas that would be useful for all CIS Centres to take up and also help in the future promotion of the existence of CIS. The results will give a tremendous "head start" to our work, not only in the coming years as we celebrate the CIS 50th Anniversary but also for future years.

First, the group discussed the following topics:

1. A Future for CIS or W(H)ITHER CIS?

a) What does CIS Network really stand for?

We discussed whether CIS is an active organisation or just a CIS Brand that links the different countries?

We decided that CIS is currently more of a Brand name rather than an active, vigorous organisation and agreed that it needs to be re-launched, revitalized and rebranded with the CIS 50th anniversary in 2009 giving a major opportunity to do so.

The benefit of the CIS Network needs to be amplified in a number of ways, and especially as a global, reliable OSH information network.

b) CIS and the Future

We discussed Where is CIS as an entity going?

We noted some recent expansion in the number of CIS Centres and agreed that this was encouraging. But times are changing fast as we can see in Gabor Sandi's 2007 report CIS at the Crossroads report and also in Annick Virot's 2007 report to the Annual general meeting.

It is essential that CIS as a network has clearly identified aims and objectives that can encourage, inspire and motivate CIS Centres wherever they are in the world.

We felt that this is the time to go back to basics and re-iterate what a National Centre should be doing.

In particular we feel that the CIS 50th Anniversary in 2009 is a time to clearly state these aims and objectives through a variety of activities proposed below.

It is recognised that CIS members should not work alone but must make partnerships with other similar organisations, institutions, training organisations and academia within each country to help in the task of securing safe and healthy workplaces.

Already many other networks exist that can be linked into. At the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work seminar on networks in 2007 in Dusseldorf it was clear that many people representing CIS Centres were unaware of these other networks.

We also discussed what the best ways are of holding the CIS Network together on a daily basis so that members feel that they belong to a network where they can ask each other for information, advice, obtain training and make perhaps one -to-one links. The results of the discussions are amplified below.

2. Presentations from each member attending the meeting

As part of our preparation for the discussions those attending each gave a presentation on the best practices and services that are carried out by their own organisations and also best practices by other organisations known to them.

These presentations are now available alongside the CIS Newsletters on web site

We felt that there are many ideas that would be relevant especially to the CIS Network and have incorporated them into our Recommendations.

3. The Recommendations

These are under the following headings:

a) The CIS Network

This is not effective in its present format, and it was agreed that CIS must NOT lose its identity, but it needs to meet the requirements of the future users who have a different set of skills than the previous users. These users have knowledge of the English language, knowledge of the use of computerized information and understanding of benefits of reliable, authoritative information that can be used and adapted in most countries.

We recognised that there are many other organisations and institutions that are NOT in the CIS Network that also offer quality OSH information and training. These must be linked to the CIS wider network and recognised as such.

b) CIS Centres

Eliminate the distinction between the titles of national centre and the collaborating centre because it is confusing to those outside of CIS and sometimes for those within the CIS Network. Just have one title "CIS Centre" so that all can work together towards the aims and objectives of CIS Network. Many National Centres are a reality in name only and do very little to be active centres. Those countries with more than one CIS centre e.g. The Netherlands appear to work amicably together.

Any Centre not performing adequately should be informed of the requirements of being a CIS Centre and given the opportunity to improve or relinquish the title. If not the whole of the CIS Network is tarnished by poor or none performing centres.

For more details see

c) CIS Centres' Annual Meetings

It is strongly recommended that the holding of the CIS Annual General Meeting (AGM) alongside the ILO Congress be disconnected. It is with dismay that members find that the Network only meets twice every three years. Members usually cannot afford the costs or the time or have the interest to attend such meetings.

The Korea 2008 CIS AGM - according to the list of participants - only 16 National centres, 2 regional centres (also 6 observers - inc 3 from Euro Agency) were represented in Korea. In addition 22 ILO / CIS staff attended.

Perhaps a survey of the full membership to see why people did not attend would give useful information.

In all the years of attending CIS AGM many people feel that it is not appropriate to link CIS Meetings with the ILO Congress. There is such little time available and CIS HQ staff members are usually tied up with work not connected with CIS. The CIS Centres representatives mainly do not attend the Congress, mainly for financial reasons.

d) CIS Plan of Work

Currently the CIS Network meets from time to time but there is no clear direction where efforts need to be made.

CIS Network needs a very dynamic Plan of Work (POW) to which all members can agree.

There should be a Steering Committee that can be in touch on a regular basis to help keep the POW on track and help when there are any problems.

The POW should have:

The report from the CIS Working Party 1 Publicity, Promotion and Communication Strategy that was held in May 2005 and re-confirmed and revised in September 2005 covers all the recommendations of the many CIS Centres that attended the annual meeting that year. See

We believe that this report and its action points should now be used in our future work and that the Priority step is to establish a Plan of Work.

e) Training and Twinning

This used to be carried out by well-established CIS Centres who helped newly established Centres to receive a number weeks training in all aspects of running a well developed information centres. Good examples were given by the UK, Finland and Belgium.

It is useful to establish the twinning agreement - whereby the well-established centre then continues to be in close touch with a developing centre.

We also recommend that there should be an exploration of the funding regimes in order to enable training to be carried out for newly developing centres. Organisations such as the European Commission/Agency for Safety and Health at Work, British Council etc should be contacted to see if such funding is available. One member of our group has written a number of textbooks on setting up, maintaining and promoting the use of information centres. See

f) Communications

We agreed that the success of the CIS Network depended on very regular contact from CIS HQ/Safework to the CIS Centres.

The report from the CIS Working Party 1 Publicity, Promotion and Communication Strategy mentioned above contains a wealth of information on how, why, when etc and is not elaborated here. The reader should go to the quoted website and print out a copy to be able to see the range of ideas that can be implemented.

We did go through the various promotional activities and discussed the merits of each one.

The CIS Newsletter

Established 21 years ago and available electronically for CIS Members and the public. The Monthly Newsletter does not involve the ILO CIS in any costs and is produced, distributed and the web site maintained free of charge.

The Newsletter is one Member's own effort with contributions of news, events, web sites, publications and other items of interest from Members and others. It is also re-used by many organisations worldwide as a Newsletter with added local news.

The search engines such as Google regularly pick up items from the CIS Newsletter resulting in global exposure.

The London Meeting endorsed the Newsletter's contribution and that it should continue to be produced.


We believe that the CIS web site needs to be improved in many ways and that there should be a front page that is active with the latest information updated regularly. This way the Search engines can constantly pick up the new items.

Recommendations include:

Press releases

These need to be produced on a very regular basis so that CIS Centres can use them in their own Country. It will also enable the CIS Centres to receive consistent messages. It is essential that CIS HQ and the CIS Network as an entity be promoted as well as specific news items.

More details are available within The report from the CIS Working Party 1 Publicity, Promotion and Communication Strategy (2005) that covers many useful points and a range of topics. See

The Press Releases (PRs) could be written by CIS HQ, CIS Centres and used worldwide.

Perhaps the Steering Group could also put forward some draft Press Releases. Some Members already write these as part of their regular work. The only problem if it has to go through the ILO Press Office it could take a while to get "approval" and this then prevents the PR sometimes being as timely as it should be!

g) Products


This is a very important product - the 5th edition will be a great asset to the CIS network, but it should not usurp the general day-day work of the CIS HQ and its links to the Centres.

Again, it is essential that Centres are kept up-to-date on the progress of the 5th edition and press releases must be sent to all countries so that promotion and publicity can be planned. See Communications paragraph above for details.


In light of the declining OSH information sources worldwide it is essential that CISDOC receives adequate funding to enable it to expand not only subject areas to meet the requirements of the users and hopefully future users, but also the numbers of records added must be increased.

We note with regret that in recent years there has been a decline in the number of records added.

As more countries / centres are brought into the network there must be information to suit their needs. It also noted that many countries do not enjoy the advantages of a fully functional CIS Information Centre.

The updating is time-critical as new information becomes globally available. We suggest that to cut costs at CIS HQ that future records should be in English language ONLY as more people speak/understand English now.

Virtual Bulletin (VB)

The group applauds this development and the VB should be given more publicity.


This is a much longer term project but we believe that it should be expanded and constantly updated.

This has implications for funds and this should be added to the CIS Biennial Budgets with perhaps an outside contractor engaged on the work.

The various other products provide a useful service to the CIS Network.

Training and Electronic Training

The Group endorsed the Working Party 4 paper Training and E-Training in that the information it contains is very relevant to the future of the development of CIS Centres - see

50th Anniversary Celebrations

The Group recognises the very generous invitation of the organisers of The A+A 2009 Conference and Exhibition to be held on the 3-6 November 2009 in Germany to host the celebration of the CIS 50th Anniversary in Germany, but propose that the celebrations are held instead in Geneva - the home CIS.

Having the celebrations in Geneva would enable any of the ILO staff and other linked organisations to attend, without having the expense of attending the A+A event.

The 25th Anniversary celebrations were held in Geneva and it is felt that this is a more appropriate location.

It is proposed that a 3-day celebration in September 2009, in Geneva could be held In conjunction with the 2009 Annual Meeting of CIS Centres. And also a training day be offered to CIS Members.

Proposals include the following:

  1. Hold a one-day training session before the Annual meeting event.
  2. Hold the one-day 2009 annual meeting - including the discussion on the Plan of Work. Dispense with the oral presentations of the Centres' annual reports, these should be sent in advance to the CIS HQ and collated together on the CIS web site, and if required put on a memory stick or CD for anyone wishing to receive them.
  3. Have a one-day conference to celebrate the achievements of OSH that could also include a talk from Dr John Howard on the development of the Encyclopedia.

CIS members themselves would organise these events, a conference to be held at the ILO HQ. Such events have been organised by members in previous years.

The social side could include a cocktail party provided by members such as we have held in recent years. There could also have a sponsored evening event perhaps on a board a boat on Lac Leman.

These events would not require a large amount of support from the Safework / CIS HQ

Invitations should be extended to:

All CIS members previous and current, EU Commission and the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work and the Focal Points (Many Focal points are the same as CIS Centres plus other networks such as International Association of Labour Inspectorates (IALI).

The Group is happy to organise these events, and would be very happy to attend a meeting in Geneva to discuss details.

File Ref: CIS London meeting 2008 Final Recommendations for the Future of CIS revised @18.9.08