Details of 33rd A+A Congress and Exhibition announced

03 July 2013

From 5 – 8 November the International Congress of A+A – Safety and Health at Work – will be held for the 33rd time at the Düsseldorf Congress Center. Bruno Zwingmann, CEO of Basi, the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health outlines what visitors can expect from this year's event

The organiser, Basi, invites all experts to use the four congress days to gather information on and discuss the complete spectrum of current issues in safety, health and ergonomics. In 60 lecture series presented at the Congress running concurrently with the A+A trade fair, 350 high-calibre experts from political, research and practical fields concerned with safety and health at work will discuss current developments in society, reform projects in national and European policy, technical and organisational innovations as well as the latest scientific findings. 5,000 delegates are expected to attend the Congress. The partner country of A+A 2013 is Turkey and Turkish Labour Minister Faruk Celik is expected to be present at the opening event. 

Work and Health

The relationship between work and health is still a prevalent theme. Stress, psychological strain and disorders as well as the "burn-out syndrome” as a focal health problem (at least in Germany) are nearly omnipresent in the media but also in politics and business. 

The public visibility of occupational safety and health themes does not always correspond to their "real” importance for prevention. In its "Stressreport Deutschland 2012” the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has submitted facts and figures for this theme on the basis of a survey of the employed conducted jointly with the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BiBB) in 2011/12. 58% of the in total 20,000 people polled mentioned multi-tasking as a job profile requirement followed by pressure to perform (52%), repetitive work processes (50%) and disruptions at the workplace (44%). Workers perceived time pressure and the pressure to perform as constituting a particular burden for them (34% of those polled). The "Stressreport” also narrows down the on-going restructuring activities in modern working life as a particular focus of pressure. In the opinion of those polled, however, the level of psychological strain as a whole has remained almost unchanged since 2006.

This means "mental” requirements and stress in the widest sense of the word rank top of today’s stress agenda. And there are many indications that a "burnt-out” man who is exposed to a kind of communication overkill and constantly expected to be creative and positive and ready to perfectly organise and market himself, could basically become the prototype for the negative consequences of the modern working (and living) conditions on health. (Carmen Losmann has covered this new working world in her film "Work Hard – Play Hard”, which will also be screened at A+A as part of the art and theatre festival complete with a Q&A session with the film director). Many studies also evidence the most important "antidotes” such as good leadership, general support especially from superiors and colleagues as well as sufficient recreation and building resilience. 

The importance of stress and psychological as well as organisational burdens by no means belittles such physical burdens as noise, hazardous substances or lifting and carrying of heavy loads. The BAuA’s aforementioned large-scale survey already provided evidence of these burdens. With the exception of extreme physical burdens and fatal risks these have not decreased across the board – on the contrary, they have increased in many areas – like in the construction industry where numbers are rising – or completely new areas.  

Irrespective of this, the growing significance of mental stress and disorders is almost symbolic of the turning point facing the field of health and safety at work. 

Potential in Prevention 

The concept of occupational health originated as a human issue. This ethical-political focus continues to serve as a compass and main driver. Compared to the situation 30 years ago, however, safety and health at the workplace now feature in a new economic context. Today, we can clearly evidence that economically sustainable, "safe and healthy” companies depend on safe, healthy and ergonomic working conditions. 

2011 saw over 178,000 people retire from active working life for medical reasons in Germany. A current study puts the social costs of early retirement at over EUR 20 billion per year; half of these costs can be seen as a consequence of labour-induced burdens. 

With an average incapacity to work of 12.6 days per worker, Germany posted 460.6 million days of absenteeism in 2011. Depending on the volume of incapacity to work, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that the resulting production losses impacting the national economy total EUR 45.7 billion and puts the loss of gross value added at EUR 79.5 billion. 

Prevention is an investment in the future. Retaining and promoting staff health and their ability to perform is therefore increasing in importance for the business community and for social security and policy-makers. A safe and healthy working environment decisively contributes to companies’ ability to innovate and compete. Many corporate case studies prove that safety and health measures at the workplace result in lower staff turnaround, improved process and product quality and improve the company’s image. 

Health protection and promotion are essential prerequisites for staff motivation and creativity. Especially in highly developed economies the "human factor”, human skills and the quality of work, is of vital importance in the global competition between different locations. This has also become especially clear in the past economic crisis despite the doubtlessly negative consequences above all in the "short-term economy”. Effective and efficient prevention can sustainably improve a person’s quality of life, mobility and ability to perform and reduce a major share of the otherwise required (consequential) costs of illness. All too soon, economising on safety, health and ergonomics often proves bad planning also in business terms.  

This means that safety and health at the workplace benefits not only the workforce. The economic potential of prevention is also substantial and must therefore be exploited markedly better especially in view of the "ageing” societies in Europe. This is precisely the strategy pursued by modern-day occupational safety and health when incorporated in business process flows as a discipline. Today, it can depend on a great awareness for safety and health risks and favourable economic arguments in Germany and Europe but increasingly also in the rest of the world. 

Principal event and global marketplace for prevention

With its two strands – congress and trade fair – A+A is the principal meeting point and global marketplace for this field of activities. And this is also its unique selling point. 

The A+A Congress addresses all central safety, health and ergonomic issues. Of particular cross-disciplinary importance are the events on the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA), on occupational medical care and safety consulting but also on the ergonomic design of working time and work organisation, on the importance of standardisation in health at work, on the importance of prevention for securing a skilled workforce in view of demographic change and finally also on gender-sensitive safety at work. In 2013 there will be a special focus on "Health” including mental stress and disorders. 

Status conference "Health Promotion at Work” (BGF)

At the time when modern health and safety laws were adopted in the mid-1990s Germany saw the systematic development of occupational health promotion start – driven especially by statutory sickness funds. Prevention, i.e. the avoidance and minimisation of risks, on the one hand, and the promotion of human and organisational resources, on the other, are two sides of the same coin both forming an integral part of modern safety and health at work. 

Held for the second time as part of the A+A Congress is a joint event organised by Basi and the Federal Association for Prevention and Health Promotion. The one-day status conference "Betriebliche Gesundheitsförderung/Workplace Health Promotion” focuses on the workplace health promotion measures: exercise, nutrition, recreation and drug prevention with a special focus on the health promotion measures for small enterprises in various industries. 

In addition to the BGF conference a separate event on workplace health management (BGM) will be held. And there will be another event dealing specifically with occupational diseases with a focus on the newly recognised occupational diseases in Germany. 

Organised in parallel with the Congress sessions, the A+A trade fair will for the first time feature an exhibition area entitled "Corporate Health Plaza”.  

Demographics, Skilled Labour Shortage and Prevention

By now the rising age of the (working) population and its explosive socio-political impact are heatedly disputed topics and facts of life. There is a concrete shortage of skilled labour on the horizon. However, staying on the job for longer depends on many physically challenging occupations on a markedly improved quality of work. In particular, hands-on solutions at factory and industry level are demanded here by the two sides of industry. A separate Congress session will discuss the contribution prevention can make to this using case studies from various industries.  

Technical sessions and practical solutions 

In addition to cross-sectoral issues the technical sessions on specific hazards and stresses have traditionally occupied a major slot in the Congress agenda for A+A. The A+A Congress 2013 presents innovative practical solutions for safety, health and ergonomics.  


Working Environment

Focal themes in 2013 include noise, dust, REACH and safety at work, artificial optical radiation, electromagnetic fields as well as biological agents.

Accident Prevention, Security, Fire Protection

This segment comprises events dealing with new accident risks – for instance those involved in the cooperation between man and robot, with testing and certification, product safety and operational reliability as two sides of the same coin, with the procurement of safe and appropriate work equipment as well as a 1-day event on protection against fire and explosions. (In keeping with this Congress theme day Hall 6 of the trade fair will again house the major hands-on demonstration of the Association of German Site Fire Services.) Beyond this, a separate event will address the shared view of management systems for security at work and health and the interfaces between the two.  

Focus on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment will also be a focal theme in the international series of lectures at the 2013 Congress. Two high-exposure series of events will present innovative PPE and its applications including:   

  • Intelligent rope-access concepts
  • Selection of chemical-resistant protective gloves
  • New standards and innovations for respiratory protection
  • Hearing aids with hearing protection feature
  • Protective gloves with serious hand injuries
  • Combined PPE for respiratory protection and fall protection
  • Protective goggles with optimised lenses for older workers

The PPE lecture events correspond to the exhibition areas of the A+A trade fair. 

A+A International 

The international sessions of the A+A Congress programme particularly feature the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Social Security Association (ISSA), the European OH&S Agency, Turkey as a partner country of A+A 2013, international OSH associations and the technical sessions with German/English interpretation. The focal themes of the international technical sessions revolve around such classic health & safety themes as Personal Protective Equipment, occupational diseases, testing and certification, transport and road safety, international education standards in prevention as well as safety coordinators on construction sites.

ILO Conference "Make it Visible – Occupational Diseases”

The recognition, prevention of and damages paid for occupational diseases on a global scale are the subjects of the 2-day conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as part of the A+A Congress.  The primary issues addressed will be asbestos-induced and musculoskeletal disorders as well as psycho-mental illnesses. Also centre stage at the event will be the creation of a national, legal framework as well as the role of labour inspectorates and the two sides of industry. 

ISSA Workshop Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) will be organising a workshop on corporate social responsibility (CSR). The pivotal topic here will be the role and importance of corporate health risks, prevention and return-to-work concepts in CSR schemes. 

Training health and safety experts in Europe 

This workshop organised by the European Network of the Safety & Health Professionals (ENSHPO) also deals with the Europe-wide mutual recognition of degrees in prevention. 

Health & Safety in Logistics and Transport, Security at Construction Sites

A 1-day event organised in partnership with the European OH&S Agency and the German Road Safety Council will deal with health & safety at work and road safety in logistics and transport on a European scale. 

For the first time the ISHCCO, the International Safety and Health Construction Coordinators Organisation, will hold a specific workshop as part of A+A.

Special shows & forums

Basi – the Federal Association of Occupational Safety and Health is the major network for prevention, health promotion and ergonomics in the working world. Over 100 members and partners of Basi including national and international associations, organisations, ministries, accident insurance and sickness funds and universities will present their work, concepts and services at the Safety + Health Meeting Point "Treffpunkt Sicherheit + Gesundheit" (TPSG). Focal themes include the implementation of safety and health measures at companies and in administrations – for instance, in safety engineering and occupational physicians’ care, hazardous substances law etc. Of particular interest to visitors at A+A 2013 will be the approx. 2,500 m² joint stand of the German Statutory Accident Insurance (DGUV). In the immediate vicinity of the TPSG visitors can find the trade fair segments "WorkPlaceDesign” and "Corporate Health Plaza”.

"WorkPlaceDesign” pools the manufacturers of and organisations for ergonomic products and processes. The area is primarily about the ergonomic design of workstations and work processes in manufacturing and at the office. 

The new segment "Corporate Health Plaza” was especially set up for vendors and organisations involved in health care. Here visitors can find suppliers from occupational medicine as well as health care professionals and a large stand of the German Ministry in charge of consumer protection on the topic of healthy diet. 

The "Innovation Park Hazardous Substances” organised in 2011 will be extended and renamed "Innovation Park Safety and Security”, held in Hall 7a. The park will primarily focus on hazardous substances and PPE.