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Workplace safety will change forever, QLD conference claims

New laws will change workplace safety in Queensland forever, experts will tell the Queensland Safety Conference, which deal with occupational health and safety (OHS), in June 2009.

The impact of national OHS laws, together with other topics like swine flu and the safety profession’s most enduring challenges, will be addressed at the Conference when it runs from June 16 to 18 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, the conference organisers report.

Ahead of his June 18 conference address, lawyer Jamie McPherson said it was vital Queensland’s employers understood the significance of the national harmonisation of OHS laws.

“When it is adopted in Queensland, the new National Model OHS Act will completely change the manner in which occupational health and safety is conducted in this state,” the MVM Legal partner said.

“Key among the changes will be a five-fold increase in the fines and a reversal of the onus of proof. It means employers will have a better chance of defence but those found guilty will pay a high price and many businesses will fold as a result.”

Another speaker addressing the changes under the model OHS laws will be the senior director of policy for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Paul Goldsbrough. His presentation will provide conference delegates with an in-depth comparison of the new model with Queensland’s existing Workplace Health and Safety Act.

Aside from the very topical WHS Legislation theme, the conference will canvass five themes: behaviour and culture; WHS for managers; health promotion in the workplace; risk management and critical incidents; and occupational issues such as drugs, alcohol, disease and fatigue. The expert speakers will represent a diverse range of workplace health and safety leaders, including Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Qantas, the Department of Defence and researchers from three universities.

Among them will be executive director of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Simon Blackwood, and Jim Ward, survivor of the Longford gas plant explosion who saw the incident unfold from the control room. Mr Ward will discuss the safety lessons that have been lost in the years since the explosion.

Presented by the Queensland and Northern Territory division of the Safety Institute of Australia, the Queensland Safety Conference will run from June 16 to 18 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the Queensland Safety Show where more than 200 companies will showcase new workplace safety products and services.

For more information, visit the Safety Conference website.

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