Ground zero: moving towards ultimate safety

WHAT do the space shuttle Columbia disaster, motor racing and psychology have to do with the mining industry? All three will feature at the 2008 New South Wales Minerals Industry Occupational Health and Safety Conference next week.

Christine Feary

This year's conference, themed "Designing Zero Harm", will be held in Leura, in the Blue Mountains, and will feature professional health and safety experts from around the world.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Dr Nikki Williams said the conference was important to maintain Australia's world leading safety record.

“Safety is not a stationary target," Williams said.

“With continuous advances and an ever changing mining environment we can never be complacent."

The conference will feature speakers with a range of experiences from different industries, including NASA's Michael Lutomski, who will discuss the causes of the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster, risk tolerance, and its relevance to other professions, and Australian motorsport champion Dick Johnson who will talk about the overall issues of workplace safety from the perspective of V8 motor car racing.

Attendees will also hear from BP's Kathleen Lucas, who will talk about the company's response following the 2005 plant explosion in Texas, considered to be one of the worst industrial accidents in the past 20 years, in which 15 workers were killed and 170 injured.

Psychologist Andrew Marty will give a talk on the "business case for happiness", describing how to design a happy workplace.