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Safety Harmonisation Update

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has released a new film to help executive officers understand their new obligations under national work health and safety laws.

The new laws, which take effect on 1 January 2012, place an onus on CEOs, general managers, Board members—anyone who is involved in the decision-making processes that affect an organisation's activities—to ensure steps are taken to support a positive health and safety culture in their organisations.

The film features Safety Ambassador Mal Meninga and industry executive officers explaining the changes and how they intend complying with the new requirements.

Executive officers: Know your responsibilities under the new laws features Australian Country Choice CEO David Foote, BOC Limited Managing Director Colin Isaac and Workplace Health and Safety Board Chairman Vince O'Rourke.

The film points out that safety responsibilities cannot be delegated to someone else and there are big penalties if you don't comply—personal fines of up to $600,000 and imprisonment up to five years. Your business can also face fines of up to $3 million.

From 1 January 2012, there needs to be a very clear strategy in terms of addressing safety in the workplace. It's critical that safety strategy is communicated well and effectively across every business and organisation.

It's important that there is a good governance structure in place, that senior officers spend a significant amount of their time in assessment of safety issues and track the progress of the safety agenda. Executive officers will have to engage with workers to better understand the hazards in the workplace and the risks that present themselves. These are proactive obligations that cannot be delegated to another person. A safety officer will provide good assistance in meeting these obligations but the onus rests squarely with the executive officer/s.

Safety management is also good business - if you can improve the welfare and productivity of your people you will improve your bottom line and your business will be more successful. Safety comes with a value component—unsafe practices cost money, while safe practices will reduce your cost through downtime, absenteeism and your workers' compensation premium.

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