A+A: More and more reference event for the industryInterview with Birgit Horn, Director of A + A – Global Head Occupational Health

Aug 29, 2017
Posted in: , Fairs & Events , Interviews

Scheduled from October 17 to 20, A + A is the most important event in the world dedicated to safety-security and health at work. Many Italian companies are present at the fair, and many of them deal with safety shoes. We talked to Ms Birgit Horn, Director of A + A, about the next edition of the fair, the supporting program of conferences and debates, the projects in the future.


The next edition of A+A is coming up soon: what are the forecasted numbers for the new edition (total exhibition area in sqms, number of exhibitors according to product type and country of origin, number of expected visitors and their countries of origin)?

foto-2015_lowThe number of exhibitors is not yet definite, but A+A 2017 can already warrant at this stage that it will offer the full range of the latest global trends and products in industrial safety, health promotion in the workplace and safety management at work. Around 1,900 exhibitors will participate in the fair from 17 to 20 October in Düsseldorf, registrations have been received from more than 50 countries. The companies will present their goods and services on a net exhibition space of nearly 70,000 sqms. Nine halls of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre will be used at A+A 2017. Exhibitors of the sector Safety at Work – Personal Protection Equipment including Corporate Fashion – will be presenting themselves in Halls 3, 4, 5, 7.0, 9, 10 and 11. The area for Occupational Fire Protection & Emergency Management is in halls 6 and 7a, the sectors Health at Work with Workplace Design/Ergonomics and Corporate Health as well as the Meeting Point Safety + Health are based in hall 10.

A+A is the most important event worldwide for safety. What is the most important kind of product proposed at the fair?

That’s correct, A+A is the world’s most important professional event on all issues concerning health and safety at work. A+A 2017 will feature the entire bandwidth of products and services in personal protection and in the realization of safe and healthy working routines. Manufacturers will give convincing demonstrations of their innovative strength, including, among other things, corporate fashion, protective equipment, fire protection and emergency management and corporate environmental protection. There will be an abundance of products and services, presented by the important market players as well as by smaller, specialized companies.


Personal Protective Equipment: this is probably the sector of greatest interest to Italian exhibitors. Of these, many of them are footwear producers who have chosen Dusseldorf to propose their latest products. What do you think of this strong interest by Italians in your fair?

You’re right: Among the more than 100 exhibitors from Italy, the majority present equipment for personal protection, many of them have a range of safety and protective shoes on offer. The Italian companies, well known for their fashionable and functional products, have chosen A+A because it is the optimal presentation platform for their exhibits and solutions. They know that they will meet an international and highly qualified expert audience in Düsseldorf – more than 65,000 visitors from 86 countries came to A+A in 2015. 86 percent of them were decision makers from the fields industry, commerce, services, the trades, safety and health.


Looking at the data concerning visitors, which countries do you believe are the most aware and attentive to the issue of safety in the workplace?

aa-9A+A has always – ever since it started in 1954 – helped to raise worldwide awareness of industrial safety and health promotion in the workplace. A lot has happened since the very first A+A – nevertheless, there are still major challenges. And of course there are still substantial regional discrepancies. When we look at the origin of the A+A visitors, we’ll see that they came from 86 countries to Düsseldorf in 2015. One third of these experts were of non-German origin, all continents were present at A+A 2015. The majority of the visitors came from European countries, among the Top 5 were the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, UK and France. The European Union has continually played a pioneering role with its high standards in protecting employees from health and safety hazards. 25 years ago the EU introduced its first framework directive on industrial safety. It is one of the highest priorities to maintain and update high standards in Europe. The European Commission has recently committed itself to implementing further key measures. Their purpose is to adapt EU law and employment protection legislation to suit changing employment patterns and developments within society.


Conferences and debates: how important are these for your fair? What will be the most important issues addressed at the next edition?

The supporting program ideally complements the presentations of the exhibitors. It is one of the secrets behind the success of A+A, because it provides comprehensive information on today’s topics and challenges in the industry. First to mention is the 35th International Congress on Industrial Safety and Healthcare which will feature over 50 series of talks, and more than 300 speakers will address current issues and outline potential solutions. As in previous years, the A+A Congress will include the conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as a major program item. It will consist of three sessions in which the following topics will be discussed by experts on employment, health and safety:

  • Occupational health and safety in the global supply chain
  • Collecting and using OSH data
  • Violence and psycho-social risks

Other important features of the supporting program are

  • the Trend forum Safety & Security in Hall 11
  • the theme park entitled Fire Protection and Emergency Management in Hall 6
  • the daily A+A Fashion Shows in Hall 11
  • the stage program Workplace Design & Corporate Health in Hall 10
  • the special show entitled Safe Rescue Operations from Heights and Depths

and, last but not least,

  • the activities of this year’s partner country UK.
  • Details of all these features can be found at our website www.aplusa-online.com.


Will the future projects of A+A include a policy of “exporting” the fair to other countries? If so, which countries would be of greatest interest and for what reason?

Experience and expertise gained by Messe Düsseldorf in organizing A+A are already put to work for our clients. Which means, we are staging outstanding regional fairs that have made names for themselves as information and order platforms for their respective catchment areas. We have established this portfolio of trade fairs for occupational health and safety in growth regions which hold attractive potential for further business development. The portfolio includes COS+H in Beijing, INOS+H in New Delhi, OSH+A in Singapore, TOS+H in Istanbul and A+A at Riscon in Tokyo. We know the ins and outs of the regional markets’ specific requirements and have high-calibre contacts to all the relevant market participants and target groups via our network. Therefore, we believe that we are a strong partner to the export-oriented companies of the occupational health and safety sector and contribute with our events to the expansion activities of our exhibitors.


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