The congress will be taking place in parallel with the A+A trade fair and will involve 60 series of events, with 350 high-ranking experts from the fields of politics, research and practical health and safety. Speakers will focus on current developments in society, reform projects in national and European politics, technical and organisational innovations and the latest scientific findings. The congress is expected to attract 6,000 visitors.
The potential of preventive measures
Health and safety originally started as a humanitarian endeavour. This ethical and political basis continues to be our compass and driving force. However, compared with the situation 30 years ago, health and safety now forms part of a different economic environment. There is good evidence today that in order to be economically sustainable and thus “healthy and safe”, a company must have healthy, safe and ergonomic working conditions.
In 2009 over 170,000 persons gave up work for medical reasons in Germany. According to a recent study, the cost of early retirement to society is over EUR 20 billion per year, of which about half appears to be caused by pressure at work.
With an average incapacity rate of 12.8 days per working person, Germany lost approximately 459.2 million days through sickness and ill health in 2009. Based on this incapacity volume, the Federal German Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that the nationwide loss of production totals EUR 43 billion and the loss of gross added value is EUR 75 billion.
Preventative safety is an investment in the future. Businesses, social insurers and policy makers are putting an increasing emphasis on sustaining and supporting the health and capability of the workforce. A safe and healthy working environment makes a vital contribution to a company’s innovative and competitive strength. A wide range of examples from business show that health and safety measures lead to a reduction in staff fluctuation, while at the same boosting a company’s process and product quality and improving its image.
Protecting and promoting good health is an essential condition for sustaining the motivation and creativity of the workforce. The “human factor”, people’s skills and the quality of their work are of the utmost importance to an advanced national economy, particularly in view of international competition between business locations. Although there are undoubtedly also negative consequences, especially in the “short-term business” sector, the value of health and safety measures was borne out especially clearly by the latest economic crisis. Effective and efficient preventative safety can ensure a sustained improvement of people’s quality of life, mobility and performance as well as a substantial reduction in the cost of sickness and in further costs associated with it. Quite often, savings on health, safety and ergonomics can quickly prove to be poor planning, even in economic terms.
Health and safety are therefore of benefit not only to the workforce, but also to the economy. Preventative safety has considerable potential which must be exploited far more substantially, especially against the background of our “ageing” European societies. This is precisely the purpose of today’s health and safety as a dynamic discipline and strategy and its integration into a company’s business processes. In Germany, Europe and increasingly throughout the world this strategy is now based on a high level of awareness of health and safety risks.
The A+A Congress as a mirror and engine of prevention
With its two major elements of a congress and a trade fair, A+A is currently the leading event and global marketplace for this discipline. The shared priority issues and topics at the A+A Congress 2011 are above all the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA), workplace health promotion, ergonomics, demographic developments and the issues of integration and inclusion.
The Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA)
Germany’s health and safety regulations have a history of over 100 years and have now entered a process of profound reforms. The fundamental reform process started with the implementation of European health and safety directives in national law. Today’s focus is on establishing modern and efficient structures, with effective cooperation between decision-makers and all other actors, so that it is possible to provide service-focused consultancy and to monitor the legally specified health and safety standards.
Again, largely on the basis of international and above all European stimuli, Germany set up its first joint national health and safety strategy (GDA), which has now become a binding legal requirement. The strategy is also understood as an active contribution to a joint and therefore much wider European health and safety strategy. The German National Health and Safety Conference is now a central decision-making body for those who are already decision-makers in health and safety, i.e. Germany’s federal government, state governments and statutory health insurance companies, while also giving an advisory function to employers’ organisations and trade unions. The long-term goal is the gradual involvement of all health, safety and ergonomics activists under the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA).
GDA is based on shared health and safety objectives, underpinned by certain priority areas, including an evaluation of the achieved targets. The aim of the first five-year period of GDA was to achieve a reduction in occupational accidents, musculoskeletal strain and disorders and skin diseases. Projects focused above all on construction and assembly work, temporary work, use of motorised vehicles, transportation, nursing, office work, work in damp and humid environments and work with dermatologically harmful substances.
The GDA event on the second day of the A+A Congress will centre upon conclusions for the first 5-year period of the strategy, and particularly a discussion of goals, focal areas and working programmes for the period from 2013 to 2018 with the specialist A+A audience. As well as ensuring the firm establishment of GDA activities that have started, a number of new and/or special focal areas are planned, covering the improvement of corporate health and safety, the strengthening of mental health at work and the reduction of musculoskeletal strain. As a separate contribution, Germany’s statutory accident insurers are planning to conduct a new major campaign on “Musculosketal Diseases” from 2013. One aim for the next GDA period will be systematic cooperation with statutory accident insurance companies as well as the creation of a network and cooperation with all health and safety activists.
The opening event of A+A on 18 October will include talks by high-ranking representatives of government, employers and trade unions on strategic aims, on progress in the implementation of such reforms and on recent developments. The opening event will also include the awarding of the German Occupational Safety and Health Prize, which – together with the GDA – is funded jointly by the German federal government, state governments and statutory accident insurers.
Status conference: “Workplace Health Promotion” (BGF)
When Germany’s present-day health and safety legislation was passed in the mid-1990s, it was accompanied by the systematic development of workplace health promotion, funded above all by the country’s sickness funds. Preventative safety also includes the reduction of risks, on the one hand, and the promotion of personal and organisational resources, on the other. Although these elements overlap considerably in today’s health and safety practice, they are sides of the same coin. In the meantime, we have also seen the emergence of a market of service providers in a range of different disciplines. After 15 years, a one-day event at the A+A Congress will be held together with the German Federal Association of Preventative safety and Health Promotion, presenting conclusions for the world of labour.
Ergonomics – an old subject with a bright future
Ergonomics is a subject and a field of activity that will receive a special impetus by its inclusion in the autumn conference of the German Ergonomics Society (GfA) at the A+A Congress in 2011. The GfA conference will focus on “Working Time and Work Organisation”, a subject that is wider than ergonomics and will be of special interest to everyone in health and safety as well as to employers and trade unions.
Working together with GfA and the European ergonomics umbrella organisation FEES, international events at the A+A Congress will include an all-day conference on machine ergonomics. Moreover, ergonomics will also feature at various dedicated events on office ergonomics, preventative planning and the prevention of physical strain. Corresponding closely with the congress events on ergonomics, a new section will be included at the trade fair, entitled “WorkPlace Design”.
Demographics, staff shortages and preventative safety
The increasing age of the (working) population has frequently been discussed in its socio-political explosiveness and has become rather a platitude. Practical solutions are still lagging behind. We can see very clearly that there will be an acute lack of skilled workers, a shortage that is already becoming tangible today. However, many fields of activity are under strain, and in those areas people’s ability to work longer is very much dependent on a clear and wide-ranging improvement of the quality of labour. One congress event will be especially dedicated to this area of preventative safety, with a discussion of numerous examples.
Inclusion: new directions in preventative safety and disablement
Under the German Social Code IX on Rehabilitation (1999) it became a declared aim in preventative safety to focus on persons at risk of disablement. The idea of “workplace integration management” (BEM) has developed into an entirely new discipline at the interface between preventative safety and rehabilitation. Also, initiated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its planned decade of action, considerable efforts are being made both in Germany and elsewhere to ensure comprehensive improvements to the inclusion of disabled persons. Acting in connection with the national action plan of the German government, the umbrella organisation of German Statutory Accident Insurance Fund DGUV is planning several wide-ranging activities. A dedicated event at the congress will be about the far-reaching consequences for the world of labour and for health and safety.
Quality of labour and innovation
The New Quality of Work Initiative (INQA), set up by the German Ministry of Labour, serves as a platform for development, exchange and knowledge transfer, equipping businesses to meet their current challenges. The main focus of INQA is on demographic change, the construction industry, production, nursing care and the office.
The issues and areas of INQA are closely related to the aims of the sponsorship programmes of the German Ministry of Education and Research, especially the area of “Innovative Strength in a Modern Working Environment” and its major focal area of preventative safety. Its purpose is to
• help people contribute their abilities, creativity and motivation to the world of labour and to develop (and keep developing) their skills within the working environment;
• help businesses create the right conditions for the successful development of skills and thus to become sources of new ideas, successful products and new workplaces;
• help create networks and foster cooperation that will open up markets and employment opportunities.
“Brand name” of the A+A Congress: Up-to-date professional information and innovative practical solutions
As well as numerous cross-disciplinary issues, a major and indeed traditional feature in the A+A Congress programme will be events on specific hazards and strains. The A+A Congress in 2011 will present practical innovative solutions in health, safety and ergonomics.
• Working environment
The focal areas will be legislation and the practical handling of hazardous substances, nano particles, electromagnetic radiation, biological agents and ambient intelligence technologies with a substantial impact on and consequences for health and safety. These events at the congress will be matched by an exhibition entitled “Innovation Park Hazardous Substances” at the A+A trade fair.
• Machine safety
This section will be about the new Machine Directive, unsafe products, market monitoring and also safety and the use of virtual reality.
• Personal protective equipment
In 2011 new developments in personal protective equipment will be given special emphasis at various international series of events at the congress. This will be matched by major exhibition sections at the A+A trade fair.
• Fire safety
A one-day event has been dedicated to the prevention of fire hazards as an important part of the congress programme. In Hall 6 of the trade fair, this will be complemented by a large-scale practical demonstration, given by the Association of German Site Fire Services, this time together with the German disaster control organisations.
• Health management and mental health
One of the central tasks of corporate health and safety departments is currently the creation of a health management system. The status conference on workplace health promotion will be accompanied by a separate event on key figures in workplace health management.
The subject of mental strain and mental health is currently a widely discussed issue. A range of congress events will be about methods and tools in the identification of mental health problems, appropriate workplace design, conflicts and violence in the workplace and mental and physical health under the aspect of long-term consequences of strain, such as burn-out. These topics have become an integral part of the congress programme.
• Practical solutions in the workplace
As before, the focus will be on issues such as practical hazard assessment and preventative safety in small businesses, but also on ensuring a corporate health and safety culture. One topical issue will be the discussion of an index set up by the German Trade Union Federation DGB and a survey entitled “Gute Arbeit” (Decent Work). In addition there will be special and specialist events on preventative safety in the construction industry, at the office, in the public sector and in nursing care.
• Events for preventative safety actors
As in previous years, there will be a special a discussion platform for health, safety and ergonomics professionals with an opportunity to share their understanding and information about the services they provide both for businesses and for the workforce. In addition, events will be held for two large groups with an interest in on-site health and safety: a “Day for Safety and Security Officers”, a “Day for Works and Staff Councils” and a “Day for Entrepreneurs”.
An international emphasis will be created above all through a conference conducted by ILO (the International Labour Organisation) together with ISSA (the International Social Security Association) as well as Poland, the A+A partner country in 2011, and a range of specialist events with German-English interpreting services. The main focus of these events in 2011 will be on traditional health and safety issues, i.e. personal protection equipment, road safety under the UN decade of the same name, education, training and preventative safety, an all-day event on machine ergonomics and occupational diseases and illnesses.
ILO conference: “Promoting Preventative Safety and Health Culture: International Instruments, National Strategies and Good Practices”
The two-day conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), conducted at A+A together with the International Social Security Association (ISSA), will be about worldwide developments in preventative safety, schemes conducted by international companies, health and safety supervision and social security. Two new focal areas will be the spheres of construction work and health work.
Partnership with Poland
Poland is holding this year’s EU Council presidency and has started wide-ranging initiatives for more jobs and better workplaces. The A+A Congress will include a joint event of German and Polish health and safety professionals. This dialogue will focus, in particular, on PPE, European standards and machine safety. One major issue will undoubtedly also be the consequences of the new EU Services Directive and the resulting market opportunities for health and safety.
Education, training and health
An all-day event will be conducted by the European Network of Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health (ENETOSH). Thanks to ENETOSH, networking and cooperation between organisations and institutions on health and safety in education and training has developed very well at the European level, with currently 37 partners in 16 European countries. One partner is the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
WorkPlace Design and Innovation Park Hazardous Substances
The new A+A section WorkPlace Design will feature a presentation of innovative practical solutions at the trade fair. The main focus will be on the ergonomic arrangement of workplaces and work processes in production and offices, especially the communication of good practice, covering the criteria of people-friendly workplace design, man-machine interfaces, preventative safety, demographics and cost effectiveness.
WorkPlace Design will comprise the following segments:
• Action platform for talks and practical demonstrations
• Special show: “Workplace Design in Production” with institutes of ergonomics
• Special show: “Workplace Design in the Office” with Dr. Curt Haefner Verlag (publishing company) and the Deutsche Netzwerk Büro (German Office Network)
• Joint presentation: “Ergonomic Village” by the Ergonoma Journal
• Exhibitors from the fields of ergonomics, production tools and working equipment
The Innovation Park Hazardous Substances will be held for the second time this year, focusing on:
a) Health and safety and plant safety, including
– Hazard assessment
– Measuring of hazardous substances
b) Health management, including
– Application of the German Hazardous Substance Regulation by corporate medical services
– Efficient provision of emergency medical services and supplies in response to chemical accidents
c) Live presentations
The Innovation Park Hazardous Substances is funded by the occupational medical service provider InfraServ Höchst, the Federal German Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the German Trade Association for Raw Materials and the Chemical Industry and also by exhibitors.
Health & Safety Meeting Point
The German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi) is the biggest network in preventative safety, health promotion and ergonomics at work. Over 100 Basi members and partners, including national and international associations, organisations, ministries, accident and health insurance companies and also universities will be at the Health & Safety Meeting Point, presenting their work, their programmes and their services. The emphasis will be on the practical implementation of health and safety by businesses and in administration, including the provision of support in safety engineering, occupational medicine, hazardous substance legislation, etc.
For the second time an exhibition will be conducted together with the German Ministry of Education and Research at the Health & Safety Meeting Point, where projects and research institutions and establishments will be presenting innovative and practical solutions. Visitors to A+A 2011 will be particularly interested in the joint stand of DGUV, the umbrella organisation of German statutory accident insurers, which will cover 2,500 square metres.