Our working environment has changed in many different ways. The needs of the workforce have increased in complexity, requiring great flexibility and mobility. In particular, the focus is currently on the digitisation of the working environment and the impact of those processes on working conditions.
A representative study was recently conducted by the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB). Called “DGB Index Gute Arbeit” (DGB Good Work Index), it showed that 82 per cent of employees felt that their work was impacted by digitisation processes, and 60 per cent even described this impact as high or very high. The respondents predominantly reported a greater strain, growing workloads and an increasing need for multitasking. A majority also said they were experiencing more monitoring and checking. But while nearly all workplaces are now digitised and customised, demographic change has also created new challenges and opportunities. Measures to maintain a person’s working capacity are therefore just as important as industrial safety and corporate security. They improve people’s lives by protecting them from health and safety hazards. At the same time, they increase a company’s productivity and thus also its competitiveness.
From 17 to 20 October everything in Düsseldorf will revolve around a safe, secure and healthy workplace. Trade visitors from all over the world will be meeting at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre for A+A, comprising both an international trade fair and a convention. A+A 2017 can already warrant at this stage that it will offer the full range of the latest global trends and products in industrial safety, health promotion in the workplace and safety management at work. Around 1,900 exhibitors will be at this leading trade fair, and registrations have been received from all continents. A+A is the most important event for all professionals in industrial safety and security management, HR managers, works councils, buyers in industry, specialist retailers, company doctors, firefighters, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), the police, staff at employers’ liability insurance associations, accident insurance companies and owners of small businesses. It is held at two-year intervals.
As well as being the world’s biggest leading trade fair in its segment, A+A has always – ever since it started in 1954 – helped to raise worldwide awareness of industrial safety and health promotion in the workplace. New developments have always featured in the range of topics at the trade fair and convention as soon as they arise. A lot has happened since the very first A+A, then called Trade Fair for Industrial Safety and Occupational Healthcare: 25 years ago the European Union introduced its first framework directive on industrial safety. Since then the EU has continually played a pioneering role with its high standards in protecting employees from health and safety hazards. Since 2008 the number of fatal occupational accidents has dropped by nearly one quarter. At the same time, there has been a 10-per-cent reduction in the number of employees in the EU with at least one work-related health problem or with a problem that has been aggravated by their work situation. Nevertheless, there are still major challenges. It has been estimated that around 160,000 people die of work-related diseases in Europe every year. It is one of the highest priorities to maintain and update high standards in Europe. The European Commission has recently committed itself to implementing further key measures. Their purpose is to adapt EU law and employment protection legislation to suit changing employment patterns and developments within society.
Most companies – and indeed throughout Europe – have long been taking positive action on the understanding that preventative healthcare and health-promoting working conditions do not just cost money, but also save considerable amounts of cash which might be spent on accidents and illness-related absences. Also, in the long term, it means securing economic benefits:
- Staff feel happy at work if their environment is healthy, safe and pleasant. It increases their creativity, productivity and therefore also the quality of their output.
- Checking workplaces for potential hazards and revealing and removing deficits means improving people’s working routines. This makes a company both safer and more efficient.
A+A 2017 will feature the entire bandwidth of products and services in personal protection and in the realisation of safe and healthy working routines. Manufacturers will give convincing demonstrations of their innovative strength, including, among other things, corporate fashion, ergonomic office furniture, protective equipment, fire protection and emergency management and corporate environmental protection.
Running in parallel with the A+A trade fair, the 35th International Congress on Industrial Safety and Healthcare will provide comprehensive information on today's topics and challenges in the industry. As before, it will be organised by the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi), whose thematic planning is moving ahead at full speed, after receiving numerous ideas and suggestions from the industry. All this input is now being evaluated, fleshed out and translated into a presentation programme. Again, the convention will feature over 50 series of talks, and more than 300 speakers will address current issues and outline potential solutions. As in previous years, the A+A Congress will include the conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a major programme item. It will consist of three sessions in which the following topics will be discussed by experts on employment, health and safety:
- Occupational health and safety in the global supply chain
- How can companies and employers collect and analyse occupational health and safety data in order to improve safety and personal protection at work?
- Violence and psycho-social risks in the workplace
In addition to the trade fair and convention, other well established A+A programme items will be a range of forums, theme parks and special shows. They will illustrate specific solutions for specific areas and industries, providing visitors with hands-on experience of the relevant products.