Statement by Bruno Zwingmann (Basi e. V.) on the occasion of the 36th International Congress for Occupational Safety and Occupational Medicine A+A (5-8 November 2019)

The latest research results on corporate health and safety will be presented at the 36th International Congress for Occupational Safety and Occupational Medicine 2019, from 5 to 8 November 2019, and will be combined with the practical experiences of players from industry and administration.

The A+A Congress is the most important joint event in occupational health and safety in Germany, and is held in parallel with the A+A trade fair, the global marketplace for products and services in personal protection, operational safety and health and a healthy workplace. Specialists will be at hand, providing information about current solutions to the challenges of new risks under Work 4.0 and new design opportunities as well as exchanging ideas with those working in the practical field. Basi, the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health, is expecting to see over 5,000 convention delegates at the CCD Congress Center Düsseldorf South.
There will be around 40 series of events, providing a discussion forum on the latest scientific findings and practical experiences as well as an intensive exchange between politicians and business representatives. New event formats will be presented, such as “Practice Interactive”, providing further opportunities to explore innovative tools and processes and discuss them with specialists.
“Focus on Professions” on the subject of “Expertise for Change” is aimed at the various preventative healthcare professions as well as university lecturers. Moreover, Focus on Professions will feature the first “Prevention Slam” and awards for contributions to the topic “For me, a healthy workplace means…”.

Work 4.0 and the challenges of digitisation

The digitisation of jobs and procedures (“Industry 4.0”) is steadily moving ahead, impacting the entire structure of our working environment. In the last legislative period the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) started to deliver the initiative Work 4.0, with important stimuli to the public discussion on the opportunities and risks of digitisation. These issues will be the focus of a central event on 5 November at the A+A Congress 2019. There can be no doubt that continual professional development will play an even greater role in sustaining and expanding the relevant skills. Feeling rested instead of being continually available and exhausted. Anyone who is continually available often feels that they haven’t been getting enough rest. This is borne out by a report entitled “Safety and Health at Work” (SuGA 2017), written annually by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (BAuA) for the Federal German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS). A working hours survey in 2017 showed that more than half of those in full-time employment (56%) feel completely rested when they start work. More than a quarter of all respondents (28%) feel somewhat rested, while about every sixth person (16%) says they haven’t had enough rest at all before starting work. The share of well-rested people drops in proportion to the number of working hours as well as the amount of overtime. A similarly negative effect can be observed with overlapping shifts and regular weekend work. Those who start work after a good rest report less physical and emotional exhaustion. One point of discussion at the A+A Congress 2019 will be how a person’s working hours can be modified in favour of a good work-life balance and thus a better rest.

Taking action against sickness

The latest figures from the German Federal Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (BAuA) show that employees took an average of 16.7 days of sick leave in 2017. The topmost item on the list continues to be musculoskeletal issues, with 22.5% of all days of sick leave. The second place is taken by mental and behavioural issues (16%), and respiratory issues accounted for every seventh day of sick leave (13.9%). The events at the A+A Congress will feature specialists discussing proven practical solutions, designed to keep older employees, in particular, healthy for longer.

Practice Interactive

“Practice Interactive” – piloted in 2017 – is now being expanded.
It will focus largely on issues of assessing working conditions, e.g. in relation to tools and processes involving the workforce and their collaboration with other departments. New concepts will be discussed concerning environmental problems in the workplace and Workplace 4.0 as well as mental and general health issues, integration and inclusion. What do players in health and safety need in order to cope with their day-to-day challenges? What helpful innovations are there in research, politics and current projects? The discussion of these issues will be the focus of “Practice Interactive”, with four events on 6 and 7 November 2019.

Focus on Professions

Health and safety at work is a rapidly growing sector. Basi, the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health, will therefore take a close look at the relevant professions in preventative healthcare, health promotion, integration and inclusion. All of these are affected by the central question of the event as a whole: Which areas of expertise will be required for a transformation? What is relevant to each person’s own profession? How will the professions work together more closely? What are the challenges of the future? These questions are also the topic of a Basi survey, and the initial results will be presented at the A+A Congress 2019.
8 November 2019 will centre around: “In Focus: Health and Safety Professions – Initial and Further Training and Collaboration”.
As well as discussing issues of initial training and the strengths of each profession, the convention will look the options and the need for collaboration. The target group will comprise professionals, university lecturers, students and trainees. This will also be the first time that a “Prevention Slam” is held, with entertaining talks before a large audience. As the name suggests, speakers will be competing for the audience’s favour within a specified time frame. The Prevention Slam will involve students from all disciplines dealing with health and safety at work. Based on their knowledge of occupational health and safety, the contestants will be giving amusing presentations to the audience. The motto is “ “For me, a healthy workplace means…”
The full thematic spectrum of preventative healthcare.
The A+A Congress 2019 will offer events on all the important issues of health and safety at work as well as on traditional issues such as operational and machine safety, physical impact, hazardous and biological substances, dust minimisation in construction, musculoskeletal strain and violence at work, as well as the non-visual effect of light, impacting, for instance, a person’s day/night cycle.
Going beyond the discussion of Work 4.0, there will also be a focus on innovative assistance systems in production and a critical debate on the “Controversy of Exoskeletons” with their opportunities and risks for occupational health and safety. Other topics will be mobile working concepts as well as work time organisation and a safe and healthy corporate culture. Last but not least, another important subject will be cooperation with active players on an industry-wide level, based on the German Preventative Healthcare Act and the country’s first national preventative healthcare report. This will include the corporate level, talking to works and staff councils in occupational health and safety about new approaches in collective bargaining policies, e.g. on introducing flexible working hours. An entire all-day event will be dedicated to new opportunities for action and the role of disabled representatives in preventative healthcare.

Good Work Worldwide

In addition to Work 4.0 and Preventative Healthcare 4.0, the international programme of the A+A Congress 2019 will have an all-day event on the subject of “Good Work Worldwide”, looking at projects in collaboration with Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries in the development of health and safety structures and expertise. The organisers are planning to include talks on the “Vision Zero Fund” for globally active Vision Zero coaches, given by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA). Moreover, conferences will be held by networks of health and safety professionals on the European level – the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the EU Commission.

Focal areas of the A+A trade fair

As before, the international A+A trade fair will be an occasion for the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi) to invite its members and partners to gather at the Health & Safety Meeting Point in Hall 10. Around 100 exhibitors are expected to attend. Right next to them will be WorkPlace Design & Ergonomics and Corporate Health & Safety with a joint Trend Forum, and there will also be a Trend Forum on Safety and Security in Hall 11. This area will have new exhibitors with digital solutions and products, such as collaborating robots and exoskeletons, as well as new ideas for “ancient” ailments, such as backache, healthy nutrition and state-of-the-art ergonomics in production and at the office.

Bruno Zwingmann, Sankt Augustin