Health and safety within the workplace are issues of growing international concern! This much was evident at the A+A safety, security and health in the workplace exhibition in Düsseldorf, writes CHARLEEN CLARKE
Do you still think that some companies don’t care about health and safety? In South Africa, maybe, but the world has woken up to the many benefits of promoting safety, security and health within the workplace. This was hugely obvious at the A+A – for two reasons: the number of exhibitors and the number of visitors.
We’ll get onto the 2013 exhibitors and visitors shortly. But first, a bit of background: A+A stands for “Arbeitsschutz + Arbeitsmedizin” (meaning occupational safety and work medicine, if translated literally). The event started in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1954, and, to date, 30 fairs have taken place, all but one in Düsseldorf (it took place in Berlin in 1961).
Now let’s fast forward to current times and ponder the 2013 show, held in Düsseldorf from November 5 to 8, 2013. It was a hugely impressive event, which attracted a whopping 1 601 exhibitors. The growth over the 2011 exhibition was marginal (there were 1 598 exhibitors at the A+A back then). But still, a total of 1 601 exhibitors is not to be sneezed at.
Incidentally, while the bulk of exhibitors were foreign, there was only one South African exhibitor at the 2013 fair (more about that company later). Not surprisingly, the Chinese contingent ruled the foreign roost, with 280 exhibitors. This group was followed by Italy (92 stands), France (69) and the United Kingdom (67). They joined the 519 German exhibitors and other companies from all around the world.
And visitor numbers? Also impressive. The 2013 fair attracted 63 000 trade visitors (versus 60 100 in 2011) from 55 countries.
The mood in the halls was upbeat and buoyant throughout the event. This was bolstered by a growing personal protective equipment (PPE) market in the fair’s home country. According to findings from a survey carried out by Marcom Marketing Research & Consult and presented at the A+A, the annual market for PPE in Germany stands at around €1,7 billion (R25,7 billion). This corresponds to growth between 2004 and 2012 of 35 percent.
So, what did all those trade visitors come to see? There was so much to see at the show that we could easily fill this entire issue of SHEQ MANAGEMENT, but here are just some of the highlights …
SNAZZY EYEWEAR FROM 3M
I loved 3M’s newest line of protective eyewear, the SecureFit 400 Series – because it’s hugely comfortable. The 400 Series features self-adjusting Pressure Diffusion Temple Technology and adjustable nose-pads, meaning these glasses fit your face perfectly (irrespective of its size and shape).
The series features polycarbonate lenses that absorb 99,9 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
Researchers at 3M developed Pressure Diffusion Temple Technology after completing a comprehensive study that examined different face shapes and sizes from around the world. The study identified approximately 600 different touch points on the human face that then guided the design and fit of protective eyewear lines. The key benefits of pressure diffusion temple technology are: a secure, comfortable fit; its ability to self-adjust to a wide array of head sizes, which may ultimately reduce the need to stock multiple frame sizes; and reduced frame slippage during head movement.
The company also launched an innovative ear defender solution called the Peltor LiteCom Series. We all know that, when communication is integral to a job or activity, it can be tempting to remove an ear cup in order to communicate with a colleague, exposing the ear to potentially damaging levels of noise. With a built-in two-way communication system, the LiteCom Headset from 3M protects the user from high noise levels, supporting compliance with noise regulation, while enabling workers to communicate with other headset users at up to 1 000 m on one of eight main channels.
This headset includes an advanced microphone filter that reduces unwanted sounds, enabling employees to hear each other clearly while their hands are otherwise occupied. Simplified menu systems, a rugged design and reinforced components ensure the headset is easy to use and long lasting.
DEKRA PROMOTES SAFETY WEB
Dekra was promoting its innovative Safety Web at the A+A. With more and more companies chopping budgets (including training), this is a fascinating concept.
An alternative to conventional classroom training, Dekra Safety Web offers multimedia instruction in the form of web-based training. The company has offered this service in Germany for almost two years but, according to Dekra’s Marie-Astrid Reinartz, it’s constantly being enhanced and expanded to include new topics.
She says that, with ever-shrinking budgets, e-learning solutions offer cost advantages without reductions in content and quality. “The number of premium products in this market is still modest, however. Dekra Safety Web sets new standards: it offers a wide range of general and specific occupational safety topics from the fields of aviation, workshop areas, logistics, industry, healthcare and services,” she told SHEQ MANAGEMENT.
The system appears ever so easy to operate. Companies buy a licence and then employees log onto the portal for training. A certificate of participation can then be printed out at the click of a mouse.
BRADY LAUNCHES EASY-TO-USE LABEL PRINTER
Brady launched its new BBP85 sign and label printer at the A+A. It allows the end user to create 254 mm labels in multiple colours, and it has an easier-than-ever interface that even the most junior employee can use. Signs no longer need to be ordered and there’s obviously no waiting period; it’s just a case of walk up to the machine and print.
This sign and label printer can print on vinyl, polyester, glow-in-the-dark, reflective and other specialty materials.
“The BBP85 printer opens the door for high-visibility labelling capabilities, cost savings, time savings and improved training efficiencies,” explained Matt Luger, Brady’s senior product marketing manager. “If customers don’t have the time or budget to order custom signs, they can make their own high-quality visuals right at their facility in a matter of minutes.”
The new printer comes with Brady’s fastest, easiest operating system to date. Its touch-screen interface makes label design fast, simple and accessible. It is also pre-programmed with convenient applications for creating common visuals such as pipe markers, arc flash labels, GHS labels and right-to-know chemical signs.
“Anyone on your team can walk up to this printer and make signs and labels with little to no training,” said Luger. “It completely changes what you expect from an industrial desktop printer. This is the hassle-free printer experience.”
SHEQ MANAGEMENT saw the machine in action – and we can only concur.
ANSELL CELEBRATES A SUCCESSFUL WEEK
Ansell launched 21 new products during the show and was delighted with the visitor attendance at the A+A.
One of the products that attracted attention was the first HyFlex glove to combine RIPEL Liquid Repellence Technology (that prevents oils or lubricants from making accidental skin contact) and Ansell Grip Technology for optimal oily and dry grip.
We were also impressed by a HyFlex glove featuring the thin and breathable FORTIX nitrile foam coating, said to be the company’s most durable and comfortable multi-purpose dipped glove.
An ActivArmr glove, which is the first waterproof and impact-resistant glove that resists drilling fluids and muds, attracted the interest of visitors from the oil and gas production sectors.
Visitors were also impressed by the new “dry-sensation” AlphaTec chemical-resistant glove, which incorporates Aquadri Moisture Management Technology, which absorbs 10 times more perspiration.
“At Ansell we don’t sell gloves – we sell protection,” Ansell CEO Magnus Nicolin told the press during the show. He was referring to Ansell’s global approach, which consists of providing in-depth advice and consulting, and a real partnership with customers. At the booth, Ansell’s multi-lingual staff e-mailed customers product selections in real time using the Glove Selector tool on iPads. The Ansell Academy database was consulted where more details on standards were required. And quite a few companies left the A+A having decided to launch an Ansell Guardian audit.
A new catalogue of 350 carefully selected protection solutions was launched at the fair. It is now available in an online version on the Ansell website (http://www.ansell.eu).
INTERTEK PLAYS IT LOW KEY
Given the size of Intertek, the company’s stand at the A+A was surprisingly small. Having said that, the stand was in a busy corridor, which meant it was noticed by lots of visitors. Of course, the company does a lot more than sell PPE; it provides auditing, inspection, testing, training, as well as advisory and certification solutions.
Given the emphasis of the A+A, the company focused on helping visitors to understand the PPE Directive relating to a selection of products for sale within the European Union.
BATA SAYS “KEEP ON WALKING”
I was fascinated by the Walkline range of safety shoes on the Bata Industrials stand – because these shoes are dead sexy! But they’re sensible shoes too, as I discovered while in conversation on the stand. It turns out that the Walkline story started 300 kilometres above the polar circle in Norway – that’s where a scientist and biomechanical researcher, by the name of Terja Haugaa, lives and works. Haugaa is a leading specialist in human ergonomics and the biomechanics of walking. For many years Haugaa had been researching the impact working footwear has on the health, well-being and productivity of people in the workplace.
The conclusions he has reached are astonishing: his studies show that around 50 percent of people who wear safety shoes have one or more health-related foot problems! That’s because conventional safety footwear is designed to be solid, safe and stiff. However, this creates a problem for complex body parts such as the foot, which is designed to flex, rotate and move freely. There was a clear need for a radical new approach.
Five years ago, co-operation between Haugaa and the Bata Industrials research team began. Their aim was to tackle this issue and design a range of footwear that could support the optimal “walk and gait” of workers, by creating a biomechanical support system. That system developed into the Walkline range and ultimately the Walkline collection was born.
I wish that Bata would bring them to South Africa … they are really marvellous shoes.
MSA HAS A GAS
MSA had a massive stand, featuring products for respiratory protection; head, eye, face and hearing protection and fall protection. However, we were particularly interested to learn more about its gas detection solutions at the A+A, which included the MSA GALAXY GX2 Automated Test System.
Experts on the stand explained that it provides simple, intelligent testing and calibration of MSA ALTAIR and ALTAIR PRO Single-Gas Detectors and ALTAIR 4X and ALTAIR 5X Multigas Detectors. This easy-to-use automated test stand offers high performance as either a stand-alone unit or an integrated portable detector management system, enabling total data access and control of the MSA ALTAIR family Gas Detector fleet.
LOCAL IS LEKKER
It was great to hear a South African accent at the A+A! The accent came from Andries Coetzer, sales and marketing director of Charnaud, the sole South African exhibitor this time around.
Charnaud exhibited a number of items, including its Survive-ARC range of arc flash protective clothing and equipment designed to protect electrical workers against the hazards of an electric arc flash.
The range consists of switching garments, casual daywear for electricians and matching head-to-foot accessories, which include a high-energy ArcGoggle, balaclava and hard hat/helmet – the only system that provides an alternative to the use of bee-keeper style hoods for electric arc safety up to 45 cal/cm².
Garments are made of cotton and high-tenacity nylon blend fabrics, which are ideal for moderate to warm climates and can be worn directly against the skin.
AJ Charnaud & Company was formed in 1975, and it’s been developing and manufacturing PPE ever since. The company was founded by Fiona and Andrew Charnaud to manufacture industrial rainwear for the South African market. The organisation has expanded its range of products considerably over the years and now supplies advanced personal protective clothing and equipment to various sectors of the global economy.
These are just a couple of titbits from the show. The next A+A will be held from in Düsseldorf from October 27 to 30. We will be there!