Safety conference gains high-profile corporate support

ONCE a corporate ugly duckling, safety and the environment is now clearly high on the corporate agenda. This is evidenced by the attendance of 70 high-profile speakers including former Telstra boss Dr Ziggy Switkowski and ANZ chairman Jerry Ellis, at Aprils’ Safety In Action Conference in Melbourne.

ONCE a corporate ugly duckling, safety and the environment is now clearly high on the corporate agenda. This is evidenced by the attendance of 70 high-profile speakers including former Telstra boss Dr Ziggy Switkowski and ANZ chairman Jerry Ellis, at Aprils’ Safety In Action Conference in Melbourne.

Hosted by The Safety Institute of Australia, the attendance of many high profile business leaders at the conference is indicative of the events’ focus on communication between the boardroom and the shop floor to achieve greater safety.

According to Julie Honore, chair of the conference’s Director and CEO stream, “OHS may have once been viewed as a compliance issue but that has changed dramatically.”

“There is increased awareness by executives that if they can win the hearts and minds of their workers, they will not only have great results in safety but it will reflect positively on their bottom line. It’s now recognised that doing safety well makes sound business sense,” Honore said.

The conference held at Melbourne’s Convention Centre, runs concurrently with the Safety in Action 2008 exhibition and the Materials Handling show held at the Exhibition Centre.

Organiser of the two exhibitions Marie Kinsella said, “The practical nature of workplace safety means that it is important for anyone concerned with safety to be aware of the spread of solutions on offer.

“The bottom line is that you need to be able to demonstrate you’ve taken all reasonable steps to make your workplace safe, which in turn means you can’t afford to overlook new solutions as they come onto the market,” she said.

“In practice, staying across everything is a huge undertaking, which is why we get 350 or more safety suppliers in one spot every year at Safety In Action.”

Kinsella said the 12,000m2 of the shows was allocated to ensure a spread of specialists.

“We’re really careful to make sure that visitors get to see everything they need to solve the spectrum of safety challenges, from asbestos removal to working at heights.”

The mix of exhibitors had changed over the 11 years since inaugural show in 1998, with an increasing emphasis on exceeding rather than simply meeting standards.

“In response to industry’s growing awareness of the productivity benefits of safety, we’ve seen more and more interest in workplace wellness programs,” Kinsella said.

“There’s also been an explosion of new technology addressing the stress placed on the body and, products that improve warehouse efficiency.”

Melbourne Materials Handling show will be 25% larger than last year and is co-located with Safety In Action. Organisers are expecting the two shows to again draw more than 10,000 visitors over their three days from April 29 to May 1 in 2008.

Australian Exhibitions & Conferences 03 9654 7773.

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