Building a bright future
OSH Expo Africa, which had its début in 2011, again brought the entire occupational safety and health industry together this year. The event proved its worth as it offered suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, OSH practitioners and company leaders the opportunity to meet and greet each other. JACO DE KLERK reports.
Excitement filled the air as visitors entered Hall Four of the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand for the second annual Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Expo Africa show – which took place from June 19 to 21 and built on last year’s precedent of exceeding expectations.
As Friedah Skhosana, 3M South Africa occupational health and environmental division product manager, put it: “I was impressed that people started queuing before 10 o’clock this morning. Usually visitors only begin to arrive a bit later the day a show starts, which demonstrates that people really are serious about occupational health and safety.”
HSE Solutions marketing manager Lauren Clueit was also impressed: “The quality and relevance of the visitors to our stand far exceeded my expectations. The show is well organised and well attended – by the right people. We will definitely continue to participate at OSH Expo Africa in the future.”
Ross Cullingworth, commercial events director for show organiser UBM Montgomery, confirmed that the show has grown in size and stature. “This year saw 47 local and 21 international exhibitors attending the show,” he said. Visitors numbers also grew by 21 percent, from last year’s 2 188 attendees to this year’s 2 548.
Cullingworth pointed out that the show not only presents an opportunity for delegates to meet market leading companies face to face, but enables them to keep up to date with new legislation and enjoy the benefits of educational seminars, programmes and live demonstrations.
Clueit stressed her belief that companies in the health and safety industry that chose not to exhibit missed out. “There was a constant flow of visitors over the three days,” she said. “The hall is well set out and the facilities and level of support from UBM Montgomery are awesome. The Expo definitely adds credibility to the safety industry in South Africa, providing a meeting and networking opportunity for all.”
Cullingworth said the growing emphasis on local companies to follow worldwide OSH trends and legislation underpins why this show is so critical for both Africa and South Africa. “South African companies are starting to realise the importance of being on par with their global counterparts when it comes to occupational safety and health, as a good track record has a direct impact on a company’s bottom-line and reputation,” he said.
The first day of the event saw one successful move to raise South Africa’s health and safety standards – the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between one of the world’s biggest health and safety organisations, the UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), and the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh). In terms of the MoU, conditions will be created for membership of the joint organisation.
IOSH has more than 40 000 members in 85 countries, branches all across the globe and was the first European safety body to be awarded NGO status by the International Labour Organisation. Although it has South African members who joined online, this is the first time it has attempted to create an active network for these members.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Saiosh to create a new network of safety and health practitioners across South Africa,” said executive director of membership Hazel Harvey. “By working together on professional development, qualifications and codes of conduct, we will lay the foundations for achieving a reduction in the number of people made ill, injured or even killed because of their work.”
Saiosh president Robin Jones mentioned that the organisation has been continuously evaluating itself against international standards to ensure that it looks after both the OSH profession and OSH practitioners in South Africa. “We were delighted to find that much of what we are trying to do is already being done by IOSH,” he said. “It made sense to join hands and learn from an organisation that is the largest of its kind in the world.”
The second day of the event saw the formation of another partnership – this time between IOSH and MICROmega Holdings’ subsidiary company Nosa. The two organisations finalised an affiliation agreement, in terms of which selected students who pass Nosa’s SAMTRAC training course will be able to join IOSH as technicians at no charge.
IOSH’s Harvey pointed out that Nosa is the premier training organisation for health and safety in South Africa. “It has a long and illustrious history of producing excellent training programmes, and we are thrilled that it recognises the value of IOSH membership and the opportunity to have accreditation from us.”
Nosa director Gary Streek said the company’s dominant position in the local market will support IOSH with its strategy to grow its membership base in South Africa. He added that, with IOSH’s recognition, Nosa will be able to expand its training courses into the international market. “Nosa was happy to facilitate IOSH membership in South Africa and is pleased to be affiliated with this UK-based institution,” he said. “We share the same outlook and objectives for the health and safety industry.”
MICROmega CEO Greg Morris added that he was excited about the affiliation and thrilled that Nosa and IOSH had agreed to work together to contribute to the development of even greater excellence in health and safety education and related qualifications in South Africa. The two organisations met with seven South African universities with the aim of developing the status of health and safety as a profession through higher education.
This demonstrates that OSH Expo Africa doesn’t just provide a platform for visitors to the show to interact with OSH companies, but allows companies to interact with each other – improving overall health and safety standards in South Africa and across the continent.
Cullingworth said he expects to see OSH Expo Africa experience even greater growth going forward. “We plan to invest even further in next year’s event, ensuring that this show takes its place as a leading industry event in Africa.”