A+A: A feast of health and safety innovations!
A whopping 65 000 people from 80 countries descended on Düsseldorf, in Germany, for the 30th rendition of the A+A. CHARLEEN CLARKE was among them …
The workplace is a promising place to be! Companies are investing in health and safety! Those were the upbeat messages to emerge from this year’s A+A! In fact, there was a whole lot of good news to emerge from this year’s event … There were more visitors than before (up from 63 000 two years ago). Total exhibition space grew – from 60 700 m² to 65 000 m2.
Not surprisingly, everyone was happy. “As before, A+A has reached record numbers of exhibitors and visitors, thus reconfirming its position as a global leader among trade fairs and conventions on occupational health and safety. It is providing major market stimuli and political debate, both in Europe and beyond,” confirmed Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf, summing up the upbeat atmosphere in the exhibition halls.
Andrea Nahles, the German Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, spoke at the opening event and focused on the importance of preventative healthcare in the changing world of labour, pointing out that a flexible compromise is needed.
“When we talk about the future of the workplace, we must always include occupational health and safety. The digitisation of the workplace offers a large number of opportunities. Companies can boost their productivity, and employees can achieve better working conditions and more flexible working hours.
“However, there are also risks. Performance optimisation, pressure of time, sensory overload and continuous availability can cause mental stress,” she pointed out. (Also see the editor’s column on page 2 of this issue of SHEQ MANAGEMENT.)
Visitors appeared keen to invest and appeared interested in high-quality personal protection equipment (PPE) and clothing. This was confirmed by a study on the German PPE market, submitted at A+A 2015 by the market research company Macrom.
According to the study, the market volume has again increased by over four percent in sectors where PPE is particularly vital (such as construction and manufacturing), reaching a total of €1,8 billion (about R27,8 billion) over the last two years – despite stagnating payroll figures. This is about one tenth of the world’s entire market.
When it comes to PPE items for specific parts of the body, protective clothing and workwear (with its current emphasis on corporate fashion), the message at the A+A was clear: modern workwear needs to be cool; it should be similar to fashionable outdoor clothing, in shape, design and colour.
Nevertheless, functional aspects do, of course, continue to be vital. Thanks to modern high-tech textiles and materials, for instance, emergency response staff can wear special protective clothing that is extremely heat-resistant and, at the same time, also breathable and water-repellent.
While PPE was – quite literally – everywhere at the show, A+A exhibitors also took the opportunity to present the entire bandwidth of products and services. Here are just some of the highlights of the show:
Jaco Combrinck, respiratory business manager Middle East and Africa (MEA) at 3M South Africa, was on hand at the 3M stand to demonstrate the company’s latest and greatest products to SHEQ MANAGEMENT. The first of these was the 6055i A2 organic gas and vapour cartridge. It comes with a service life indicator and is launching in South Africa as you read this magazine.
The big news with this cartridge is, of course, the indicator, which is visual and simple to use. Combrinck says that this product, which is a world first, should sell extremely well in South Africa – because it is cost effective, easy to use and offers worker confidence.
The company also launched a powered air-purifying resuscitator – the Versaflo TR-600. “It takes the entire Versaflo system to new levels of confidence, control and comfort. It incorporates a visual, audible and vibratory motor/blower alarms for extra peace of mind,” Combrinck explained. It was interesting to learn that, while both products were launched globally at A+A, they would also be available in South Africa this year.
Ansell announced several industry firsts in protection solutions at the A+A. For instance, the company showcased seven new Microflex single-use gloves; two with Ergoform styles (Ansell gloves designed with Ergoform are engineered to deliver musculoskeletal support and reduce the risk of ergonomic injury caused by prolonged or repetitive manual tasks).
Ansell exhibited its AlphaTec isolator box glove range; one made from an extremely soft and supple formulation of the ultra-resistant synthetic glove material CSM (or Hypalon), and the other made using EPDM (similar to CSM but re-sterilisable).
Ansell is one of the few manufacturers to launch gloves in this expensive, high-performance material and has achieved flexible formulations without compromise to resistance from chemicals, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet light. The gloves are used in applications where high integrity is important, such as vaccines and biohazards.
Ansell also launched Ansell Protects Triple Active Gel, the world’s first specialised under-glove gel for workers who wear gloves. Designed and marketed in partnership with Deb, Ansell Protects Triple Active Gel’s anti-allergenic, anti-irritant and anti-perspirant properties help maintain skin health and improve wearer comfort.
The gel encapsulates common workplace allergens known to cause irritation, allergic skin reactions and allergic dermatitis, helping stop them from being absorbed into the skin. Independent scientific tests have shown that Triple Active Gel reduces the rate of water loss from the skin by 63 percent and skin redness by 31 percent.
Seven new cut-resistant medium- and light-duty HyFlex Intercept glove styles, engineered with next-generation Intercept Technology yarns, were also presented at A+A. Visitors to the booth got to the opportunity to see the gloves being “tortured” in a machine designed to mimic extreme cut injuries.
BASF presented its fascinating thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) portfolio for work and safety shoes at the A+A. The world’s first expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) is now being used for the first time in safety shoes – in the guise of Infinergy.
The closed-cell, elastic particle foam features low density, high elasticity, high abrasion resistance, high tensile strength and good long-term durability over a wide temperature range (down to minus 20°C) along with good chemical resistance. The outstanding property of Infinergy is, however, its high resilience.
Testing of the rebound elasticity in accordance with ISO 8307 (ball rebound test) and DIN 53512 (with a defined pendulum hammer) demonstrates that Infinergy achieves a rebound height of more than 55 percent, putting it well ahead of comparable foams. Infinergy also does not lose its high resilience even with continuous use, making it the ideal material for midsoles in safety shoes.
Bata launched its funky and aptly named Bright range at the A+A and Adam Pugh, Bata Industrial regional manager for Africa, revealed that these safety shoes are coming to South Africa soon!
According to Pugh, these lightweight shoes are indicative of the trend towards more fashionable PPE. “They are completely metal free, there is no steel in the toecap and they also feature the Bata Cool Comfort lining,” he explained. Colours include pink and turquoise (they’re quite gorgeous, really).
Pugh revealed that Bata, a third-generation family business that has been around for 120 years, is the largest manufacturer and retailer of footwear in the world. “We’re active in 60 countries and we have about 6 000 retail outlets. Africa is considered one of the growth areas for the company and we’ve been producing leather gumboots in South Africa for about 40 years. We started producing safety shoes locally a year ago,” he told SHEQ MANAGEMENT.
More news from Bata Industrial is the launch of a new app, which gives information pertaining to the range and location of distributors. Also watch this space for a new sock range that will launch in South Africa shortly.
Brady focused on its safety and facility identification solutions, including lockout/tagout, which has widely been described as a lifesaver in maintenance operations. With a lockout/tagout programme, companies can prevent a great number of maintenance-related accidents from happening.
We also liked the look of its brand new BBP37 cut and colour and BBP35 multicolour sign and label printers. These new printers feature multiple print colours, text- and shape-cutting capabilities and fast print speeds to give users the power to make signs and labels that make an impact – right at their own facility.
“The unprecedented capabilities of these printers truly set the new standard in safety and facility identification. They’re designed to help improve workplace visuals, with colour that gets noticed, shapes that look and fit just right, and unbelievable ease of use so anyone can walk up and print,” explained Lori Aeschbacher, global product manager for benchtop printers at Brady.
Capital Safety, which was recently acquired by 3M, presented what it termed “the most comfortable, lightest-wearing, truly innovative safety harness ever created” at the A+A.
The Exofit Strata incorporates the company’s Lifetech load-distribution system, which, literally, takes the weight off the workers’ shoulders and redistributes it down to the hips (which is around the centre of anyone’s gravity). The result? Weight is redirected to an area of the body that is better suited to carry it. The Exofit Strata also features PolarMesh padding, which keeps users’ backs cooler.
South African company AJ Charnaud & Company launched the Metal-Safe Charnaud hot metal boot at the A+A and it was good to chat to founder of the company, Andrew Charnaud, who explained that it is the first boot to be tested to over 1 000 °C.
“We actually tested this leather smelter and furnace boot (which boasts a rubber sole and external metatarsal guard) at 1 050°C,” he revealed. Significantly, it has a quick-release system to take the boot off in case of an emergency.
The boot – ideal for use within the aluminium industry (although it can be used in other applications too) – was designed in South Africa and is produced in Europe.
Also on display on the Charnaud stand was the innovative Survive-Arc range, which protects workers against the thermal effects of electric arc flash. “The Survive-Arc switching suit is the only triple-certified arc-flash suit on the market, plus it is important to note that we offer a full “head-to-foot” solution,” Charnaud commented.
A long-time A+A exhibitor (the company has been present at the show for at least 15 years), it is interesting to note that exports now account for some 60 percent of turnover. “Our export sales are growing much faster than the local business. Some 85 percent of people who try to export fail – so we are very proud of our achievements in this regard,” Charnaud pointed out. And so they should be!
Dräger launched a number of new products at the A+A. For instance, it lifted the lid on DrugCheck 3000, a drug testing kit that establishes, within minutes, if a person has recently consumed certain drugs. The compact and quick oral fluid-based drug test yields reliable results hygienically and easily. The device does not require electricity and can be used anywhere.
As we well know, the conditions in many workplace environments often place high demands on the respiratory equipment used. Enter the new Dräger X-plore 8000 powered air-purifying respirator, which combines intuitive handling with intelligent electronics for maximum safety. This allows users to fully focus on the task at hand.
Dräger has specifically developed the X-plore 8000 to provide the wearer with the best possible protection, while not hindering performance.
The company also launched the SPC 3700, a new liquid-tight protection suit (type 3) which, in combination with the
CVA 0700 ventilation vest, provides a high level of protection and comfort, too.
It was a case of “something old, something new” at the various DuPont stands at this year’s A+A. The “something old” was Kevlar – the company was celebrating its 50th anniversary!
Invented by DuPont, after its scientist Stephanie Kwolek discovered the first liquid crystal polymer in 1965, Kevlar is an advanced material synonymous with strength, durability and performance in extreme conditions. The polymer has been used in applications ranging from space suits and body armour, to gloves, sporting equipment and cellphones.
One of the many new products on display was the Nomex multi-hazard protection fabric, which represents the next-generation of protection against heat and flame, arc flash and small molten-metal splashes for industrial areas.
Nomex MHP has been designed in response to growing market demand for multi-hazard protection, providing durability and high levels of protection, while remaining breathable and comfortable: a significant step forward in performance. A blended fabric, Nomex is both light and breathable.
The A+A also marked the introduction of DuPont’s Tychem ThermoPro, a new single-layer, triple-threat protection garment. Conceived for industrial workers facing multiple hazards – in the oil and gas industry for instance, as well as firefighters and those involved in the emergency response to chemical incidents with a risk of flash fire – Tychem ThermoPro combines the chemical protection of DuPont Tychem fabric and flame and arc-flash protection of Nomex fibre in a single garment.
To be launched as a full-body coverall, combi-suit (consisting of bib overall and jacket) and gown, Tychem ThermoPro is slated for CE certification by the end of 2015. It should be commercially available in Europe in 2016.
Yet another fascinating development was the news that the Johns Hopkins University and DuPont have signed licence and collaboration agreements. These allow DuPont to commercialise a garment, with innovative features from Johns Hopkins, to help protect people on the front lines of the Ebola crisis and future deadly infectious disease outbreaks. DuPont intends to have the first of these garments available in the marketplace during the first half of 2016. Great news for Africa!
Elvex introduced lots of new products at the A+A, but its enhanced eyecare range and a nifty LED light particularly caught our eye.
The Elvex LED Clip-Light clips onto PPE, such as safety glasses, face shields and safety helmets. It is lightweight and features a 360° swivel base (so you can point it where the light is needed). Furthermore it’s housed in a water-resistant case.
The bold and stylish Elvex Impact Safety Eyewear Series caught the fancy of many a visitor. They come in a wide range of bright colours and lens tints. We also liked the look of the Elvex TTX and RX-450, the company’s cheapest safety glasses with an anti-fog coating. The TTX weighs just
24 g, while the RX-450 has a soft nose bridge for added comfort. Both prove that anti-fog coating can be affordable too.
Visitors to A+A were able to see the latest safety solutions from Honeywell at the company’s stand, as well as in the Innovation Park area where a number of Honeywell’s products were on display (having been given innovation awards by an independent panel of judges).
We found the Ne-Hon 6 – the industry’s first single-use High Visibility (HV) coverall with certified chemical protection – particularly fascinating. This new coverall, which keeps workers safe and visible at all times when undertaking particularly dirty tasks in high-risk sectors, is ideal for use in industries such as rail, aerospace, construction and oil and gas.
“The Ne-Hon 6 combines chemical protection to recognised EU standards with Class 3 High Visibility,” said David Guiho product manager at Honeywell Industrial Safety: Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Following a major research and development programme, the Ne-Hon 6 was designed to be worn over, or as an alternative to, every-day high visibility clothing to protect it from getting dirty. It allows challenging tasks to be tackled in the normal way, while ensuring responsibilities for worker safety are met. It also significantly reduces high laundering costs. The coverall is simply removed and disposed of at the end of a shift.”
Being a member of the fairer sex, this writer also took a fancy to Cocoon – a new range of safety footwear engineered specifically for women – launched by Honeywell at the A+A. As Boris Dodin, product manager of footwear for Honeywell Industrial Safety, pointed out, women often have to opt for safety footwear that has essentially been designed for men.
“The Cocoon range has, however, been created from the sole up with women’s feet in mind. Wearers like Cocoon’s combination of sport-chic inspired styling, great fit and the very latest safety features,” Dodin noted.
The Cocoon range is certified to EN ISO 20345:2011 requirements for general-purpose safety footwear, with four of the six styles also S3 HI CI SRC and S1P HI CI SRC approved, offering the highest level of slip resistance available.
It was a case of business as usual at the Intertek stand, but the guys manning it really made me chuckle when a visitor asked about a certain service. “I don’t do that, but I am sure that someone in the group does,” was the response.
That’s because the company – with a network of more than 1 000 laboratories and offices and over 38 000 people in more than 100 countries – is growing at such a rapid pace, and it’s offering new services all the time (at the time of going to print it was launching new microbiology capabilities in its Abu Dhabi Technology Centre, recently opened in Abu Dhabi, for instance).
Lest you don’t know the company, Intertek performs a whole range of SHEQ-related services … from auditing and inspection, to testing, training, advisory, quality assurance and certification.
According to the Intertek team, the future looks exceptionally bright: they say that the global testing, inspection and certification market will continue to benefit from exciting growth prospects driven by global trade flows, global demand for energy, expanding regulations, more complex supply chains, technological innovation and increased demand for higher quality and more sustainable products. Voila!
MSA showed lots of innovations in the fields of gas detection, fall protection, head protection and respiratory protection.
It demonstrated its new Altair 5X PID gas detector; the first portable gas detector with innovative XCell Pulse Technology. With XCell Pulse Technology, a daily bump test can be performed without the need for calibration accessories or bottled calibration gas.
The company also launched two new suspensions designed for the popular MSA V-Gard Industrial Safety Helmets: Push-Key and Fas-Trac III. These new hardhat suspensions maximise wearing comfort and ensure quick one-hand use with innovative systems.
The Push-Key suspension is the first economic sliding adjustment with 1-Touch solution: simple push to loosen, squeeze to tighten. It offers greater retention capacity than any other sliding suspension, because it’s so much easier to select the best adjustment position with one hand – even when worn.
Two different sweatband options are available depending on application or preference: sewn in PVC perforated wipeable, or sweat-wicking replaceable foam. Extensive customer research showed the Fas-Trac III wheel-ratchet suspension was preferred by most users over what they were currently wearing, because it improved helmet comfort, retention and stability while being easy to adjust with only one hand.
MSA also introduced the new PremAire Escape, a compressed-air Emergency Escape Breathing Device (EEBD) that provides users with respiratory protection while escaping from toxic atmospheres.
It was designed with extensive input from global oil and gas customers, who highlighted the need for a fast-to-don and easy-to-use respirator with components that withstand high levels of potential industrial gas leaks and harsh chemical environments.
With its intuitive donning procedure that takes less than five seconds, the PremAire Escape enables the wearer to easily escape from a potentially hazardous environment. It offers an air supply lasting 10 to 15 minutes to enable a safe escape.
South African company Neptun Boot is on the boil! As recently as 2009 it employed 40 people; now it has 200 employees! In addition to servicing the African market, it is also exporting to Chile, Peru, Hong Kong and China … and it’s now eyeing the European market too!
The reason for its growth is obvious: Neptun has developed a range of quality products. That range is growing, too; the global launch of two new products, namely the Stimela XP gumboot and Strident safety boot, took place on its stand.
Allister Robertson, marketing director, was understandably proud of his stand and his new product launches. “The Stimela XP is a world first! Completely metal free, it is a heavy-duty, knee-length PVC mining gumboot with safety toe protection.
“Offering an anti-penetration textile midsole and a fully integrated metatarsal protector, this 2,35 kg boot (average weight) is hard wearing and has excellent grip and sole support,” he enthused.
The launch of the Strident safety boot was especially significant, because this marks the company’s diversification into the industrial shoe market. “This is a metal-free, lightweight industrial safety shoe, designed with a water-resistant, breathable upper and dual-density PU direct-injected sole.
“It offers full safety protection to the toe and midsole and has an average weight of 1,25 kg. It is hard wearing, has excellent grip and is slip resistant. It offers three times the life of the equivalent leather boot,” Robertson revealed.
Uvex launched lots of new products on its busy stand, but we really liked the Pheos safety glasses – because they are just so cool. Of course, they don’t just look good; these rimless safety glasses incorporate highly innovative technology (the core component is the duo-spherical lens, which not only offers a wide field of vision, but is extremely scratch-resistant on the outside and permanently anti-fog on the inside thanks to Uvex’s unique supravision lens-coating technology). They’re metal free, too.
Well that’s it folks for this year’s event; we have given you just a titbit of feedback from this brilliant event. The next A+A will be held in Düsseldorf from October 17 to 20, 2017. See you there!