Working at AD has become synonymous to me with visiting Düsseldorf every four years for a certain print show. But two weeks ago I was back at the Messe for a completely different type of event altogether: A+A, one of the largest Health & Safety exhibitions in Europe.
It’s safe to say (no pun intended) that I arrived with little to no knowledge of the H&S industry. However, with 1800 exhibitors from 50 countries showcasing a variety of relevant H&S products across nine halls, I had clearly arrived at the perfect place to gain more insight. There was also no getting away from the fact that my feet were going to hurt at the end of the day!
In places it felt a bit like a consumer retail show as brands such as Regatta, Birkenstock and Puma – to name but a few – were present with their rugged clothing and shoe lines. But alongside these were clasps and winches, fire retardant materials, ergonomic seating, special threads & textiles, as well as crane & diving safety demonstrations and other more sobering products.
Health & Safety is not an ‘optional extra’ anymore – it is something every company and individual must actively participate in. And for me, this show proved what a buzzy industry it is. I heard numerous European languages being spoken as I pushed my way through packed aisles, and I even got to see a Michael Jackson lookalike attempting to stop passers-by with a rendition of ‘Bad’ that I won’t forget in a hurry!
My lasting impression is that visitors to A+A were truly focused on how they could make their workplace a safer and better environment for their employees (while keeping them fashionable too!). I saw an industry that is flourishing, with manufacturers and distributors bringing to the table a wealth of knowledge, supported by new technologies that can make all sorts of job roles as safe as possible.
With discussions in the conference sessions covering everything from compliance to psychological strains, to smart phone & tablet hazard assessment, I would say that this is an industry which is set to become even more vibrant for years to come.
So, you never know, saving our feet at exhibitions with Birkenstocks as ‘show-footwear’ may be the thing of the future!