Nevertheless, A+A is vast and the astonishing variety of safety products on show make it well worth a visit between 5 and 8 November.
The long march through the eight halls of the Messe exhibition centre (it’s best to wear comfortable shoes) takes visitors past duplex stands the size of tennis courts, where global corporations show off the fruit of their research laboratories’ efforts.
In a handful of areas dedicated to Far Eastern suppliers, the scale suddenly diminishes; the narrow aisles and compact stands in these zones are reminiscent of a bazaar or indoor market, combining the prosaic with the exotic: tanneries display full hides ready for cutting into safety shoe uppers; a young woman plays the guqin (an ancient stringed instrument) in front of a display of nitrile gloves.
Though German businesses populate around a third of the 1500-plus exhibition stands, the People’s Republic of China will fill more than 250 in 2013, partly reflecting the fact the Messe owners organise a safety show in China too, giving them plenty of chances to sign up firms eager for a slice of the European market.
UK suppliers will take up around 60 stands, mostly in Hall 6, with some familiar names on show. Look out for Oxfordshire helmet and eyewear specialist JSP at stand G37, respiratory and head protection maker Centurion at G73 and gas monitoring expert Crowcon at J24. Among the well-known multinational manufacturers at the event will be Scott Safety (Hall 6, A51), Dupont (Hall 5, A40), 3M (Hall 6, E39), Pyramex (Hall 3, C91) and Honeywell (Hall 4, D57).
Fashion events run throughout the days in a theatre in Hall 4, where troupes of dancers and models parade everything from safety boots to chemical protection suits with a flair that would not disgrace a Paris show.
There will also be a series of wearable technologies events in Hall 9, showing off prototypes of merged electronics and clothing, such as emergency services uniforms with built in sensors to monitor the wearers’ vital signs and garments with integrated lighting or communications devices.
Hall 10 will feature a special zone dedicated to ergonomic design in offices and factories, focusing on “human/machine interfaces” and preventing musculoskeletal disorders. In Hall 7a there will be exhibitions, lectures and live demos on working with hazardous substances, fire protection and disaster management.
Trade fair organisers know their potential visitors’ jobs involve more than just procurement and are keen to offer educational seminars alongside the commercial offerings as an added draw. A+A is no exception and this year’s show features a congress programme on 6, 7 and 8 November, in meeting space beside Hall 3, coordinated by the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health and incorporating sessions organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The conference is headed Make it visible: occupational diseases — recognition, compensation and prevention. The ILO says a multidisciplinary effort involving government, employers and workers is needed to end the “invisibility” of occupational ill health.
Sessions will be held in German or English and will mix examination of national and international policy with workplace level case studies.
The English seminars on the first day include a review of the ILO and World Health Organisation’s global programme to end silicosis and asbestos related disease, plus an unspecified country’s case study on preventing asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Other sessions will focus on emerging occupational diseases, preventing musculoskeletal disorders and controlling stress and psychosocial problems.
One presentation on the second day promises to be a study of a new legal requirement to risk assess psychosocial factors in another unnamed EU state. Most of the conference’s remaining English seminars on the Thursday concentrate on legal frameworks, inspection and enforcement across the EU.
There are also two sector specific conference seminars, on safety in transport on6 November and in construction on 8 November, outside the main conference, organised by the International Safety and Health Construction Coordinators Organisation
ISHCCO president Richard Habgood is speaking on changes to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations at this year’s International Institute of Risk and Safety Management conference in association with Health and Safety at Work (see page 18).
A+A 2013 is open from 9am to 6pm at the Messe, Düsseldorf. Day tickets cost €20 in advance and the congress day tickets are €120.
Planes fly direct from most major UK airports and there is a regular bus service between Düsseldorf airport and the Messe.
Travellers who want to avoid leaving the ground can travel by train, changing in London, Brussels and Cologne.