Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Accidents and Injuries in Australia are at Epidemic Proportions: Regulatory Changes and a Paradigm Shift in Understanding and Safety Management Practices are Needed

Assoc. Prof. Geoff Dell
Head of Transport and Safety Science Courses, Central Queensland University

Accidents and injuries in Australia are at epidemic proportions, the annual direct costs to the economy are now over $80 billion and the associated long term social impacts and suffering of individuals and their families are immeasurable. Clearly, existing strategies and interventions are at best holding back the flood gates and there is a need to re-think the problem and devise new and more effective programs and solutions. The high consequence low probability (HCLP) industries, like the airlines and rail, have contributed only 0.4% to these costs.

So, what are the lessons from the HCLP industries which could inform effective intervention in the others? One of the key differences between HCLP industries and others is in the way safety management is regulated, especially in relation to safety management systems, their content, implementation and effectiveness. This paper will present a clear picture of the accident and injury epidemic and contrast the key differences in the way LCHP industries typically manage safety and respond to issues, hazards and incidents. It will also offer some reasons why this epidemic may have evolved and yet largely remained under the radar of government and industry leaders and provide some guidance for the future of accident prevention and regulation in order to deliver a step change reduction in accident and injury occurrence.