Bigger and better with every year

The 2019 edition of the A-OSH exhibit attracted more delegates, displayed a greater variety of products and was packed with innovation. MARISKA MORRIS attended to see what was on offer

Each year the annual occupational health and safety expo (A-OSH) offers more to its delegates. The 2019 edition was no exception. Held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, from May 14 to 16, it offered delegates a number of interesting free-to-attend seminars and the opportunity to engage with industry leaders.

The seminars ranged from discussions on changes to OHS Acts or Standards and ergonomics, to the roles of various OHS professionals.

By far the most popular seminar of the three-day conference was the one on managing cannabis in the workplace, presented by Advocate Hendrik Terblanche from Legricon. At this presentation delegates were able to get more clarity on what the decriminalisation of the private use of cannabis means for OHS officers and the workplace.

 

Various personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers also had the opportunity to launch new products. BBF Safety, for example, launched the new Bova dual-compound rubber (DCR) boots. This new technology offers all the benefits of single-density and polyurethane rubber boots with none of their compromises.

DuPont also took the opportunity to introduce its new Tychem chemical glove range. At its launch Loren Pearson, sales and marketing manager, noted: “We have many customers who trust in our products, but are quite confused or concerned about the correct hand protection to go with our protective garments.

“With the Tychem glove range, we can provide better clarification about the compatibility between gloves and garments, so that the user understands the level of protection.” The range includes 13 different gloves for use in chemical protection. These range from light nitrile gloves for barrier protection, to various rubber and neoprene gloves that offer resistance to chemicals.

The Tychem NP570 CT, for example, is a neoprene, 13-gauge engineered yarn glove, which provides protection against acid, solvents, greases and oils. Certification on four of the gloves was pending at the time of the launch, due to a backlog caused by updates to standards. The certification on these gloves is expected soon, and include the Tychem BT730 and BT770 gloves for highly corrosive chemicals, as well as the Tychem VB830 and VB870 Viton coated gloves. DuPont has over 2 000 chemicals on its database that are tested against its gloves.

The small selection of gloves offered in the Tychem range was deliberate according to Pearson. “We have concentrated the range to make the selection process easier for the end user,” she noted. However, there are plans to expand the range further as DuPont receives feedback from its clients.

DuPont has also made it much simpler for customers to determine the most suitable garments for a specific work environment through its Safe Spec online tool.

“With the new range and the updates to Safe Spec, it will give customers the most suitable garment and glove when they enter a chemical and the concentration level. Up to five chemicals can be entered into the system and it will indicate exactly which garment and glove should be used,” Pearson explained. She added that over two-million users access the tool each year.

Pienaar Brothers, another regular at the A-OSH expo, launched the new 909 C safety helmet with CLB aversion, which allows for a lamp bracket. “It is a high-quality hard hat at a reasonable market price with a very comfortable sweat band, cloth lining and easily adjustable rachet,” said Robbie Taitz, contracts manager at Pienaar Brothers.

By turning the rachet at the back of the safety helmet, the wearer can adjust the fit of the hard hat without ever removing it. The 909 C can also be fitted with a chin strap and hearing protection. The earmuffs can simply be folded up to sit across the top of the hard hat when not in use, or folded down to fit over the ears when in use.

“It is a cost-effective, quality hard hat made in South Africa with genuine virgin, first-grade material,” Taitz explained. “This is important because if different plastics that have been moulded before are mixed, the bonding of the molecules is compromised, as the plastic has already been heated once.

“Even if the same plastic is used, it doesn’t bond as easily, so the impact protection is compromised. Genuine virgin materials provide the best quality,” he added.

Pienaar Brothers can also emboss the hard hat on four points. There are multiple colours from which to choose. A non-solvent ink transfer at a curvature is used to ensure the best possible result. The safety helmet also comes with full care and maintenance instructions.

Claw Boots focused on its Come-n-Go safety garment range at the 2019 A-OSH Expo. It includes a wide variety of clothing including v-neck t-shirts, golf shirts, general shirts, jackets and ponchos in bright colours for various safety professionals.

The golf shirts and t-shirts are made from a moisture-management fabric to ensure comfort, while the CnG D59 Conti suit is flame and acid retardant. Grant Fraser, CEO of Claw Boots International, noted: “The new directional clothing range, Come-n-Go, which is a world first, adds a fresh new dimension to safety and security.”

The personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier also has a range of protective footwear on offer. When choosing boots, Fraser urges customers to ensure they are fit-for-use and to approach a reputable supplier.

“Claw Boots offers quality and technical know-how with world-class innovation. We also offer our customers great value at a fair price,” he said.

Fraser added that the response on Claw Boot products at A-OSH was unmatched by any other expo he’s attended. “I have, during the year, been at shows around the world, including in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia,” he commented. “But I have never had such a great response. We have been inundated with interest and genuine enquiries. It has been fantastic.”

The 2020 A-OSH delegates can keep an eye out for some of these products as the PPE supplier plans to return to the expo again.

For Runrite, the expo was an opportunity to highlight new service offerings as well as re-acquaint itself with A-OSH. “We have not exhibited at this show in over four years,” said Justin Goldblatt, GM of Runrite. “I was pleasantly surprised at the increase in foot traffic and the quality of both exhibitors and attendees.

“We have been working in the background to build a strong brand and increase our market share with the help of our main product Alcolizer, which is on the cutting edge of innovative technologies for the testing of alcohol and other drugs.”

The new range of access-control-linked Alcolizer units received a lot of interest at the expo, but there was another focal point for Runrite – its saliva drug tests. The alternative drug testing units are becoming popular after the decriminalisation of the private use of cannabis, which now requires employers to test if an employee is under the influence, rather than if they are a user. Traditional urine testing is thus no longer sufficient.

“We have been rolling out our digital saliva drug tester recently, and A-OSH was the perfect platform to demonstrate the effectiveness for business and corporate companies,” Goldblatt explained. Runrite was also able to display some of its Honeywell equipment.

“We also represent Honeywell Analytics for fixed and portable gas detection. Honeywell is another strong international brand with extensive local after-sales support. We have a test instrument to measure many stressors that will enhance the on-site risk assessments already being performed,” Goldblatt said.

Clients considering Runrite as a service provider can be sure that they will be at the heart of the discussion. “We have a customer-centric ethos driven by innovations our customers want.  No idea or application is too ‘out there’ for us to consider and build a solution,” Goldblatt commented. He added that exciting new products will be launched in 2020.

St John South Africa also returned to the 2019 A-OSH expo. Chris Martin, business development manager at St John, noted: “We have to be at A-OSH, especially after the response we’ve seen year-on-year. It has a direct impact on our business. It is ideal for meeting clients and raising awareness of St John’s service offerings.”

For Martin, the opportunity to engage with clients face-to-face is what truly adds value, especially as the expo brings together the health and safety officers and decision-makers. Bheko Hlengwa, marketing officer for training at St John, commented: “There is a good fit between our service offerings and the people attending the event.”

Along with focusing on its core service offering, which includes first-aid training, St John also used the opportunity to inform its clients that it will be relocating its Johannesburg branch from Braamfontein to 220 Jan Smuts Avenue, Rosebank.

Another returning exhibitor that felt A-OSH attracts the right clientele was Alco-Safe. Rhys Evans, MD at Alco-Safe, noted: “We keep coming back, because it is the only expo that is really specifically targeted at our market. At A-OSH, we see more senior professionals in the occupational health and safety market.”

The company, which specialises in alcohol and drug testing, has been exhibiting at the expo since its inception. Evans said: “The 2019 expo has been very good and very busy. We’ve had the right people stopping by non-stop.”

Alco-Safe used the opportunity to highlight an existing product that has gained more traction recently: its saliva drug test. “Specifically, this year we are talking a lot about saliva drug tests,” Evans commented. “We did have them at last year’s expo, but since then we’ve had the ruling by the Constitutional Court that decriminalised the private use of cannabis.

“Saliva tests have become very important now, because they test for very recent use of dagga rather than extended use.” (Read more about testing for cannabis in the workplace in an upcoming issue.)

There were even some new additions to the A-OSH Expo, including the Japanese hand-protection manufacturer Showa. Jennifer Alcock, marketing communications manager for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania at Showa, said: “Our experience at A-OSH has been very positive. We were so much busier than we expected. We will definitely bring more people next year.”

With the best occupational health and safety product and service providers exhibiting, as well as industry leaders and experts attending, A-OSH should be the most important event on the calendar of any OHS professional or company. Be sure not to miss out on any of the action at the 2020 event!

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