By Sharyn Macnamara
Enforcing employee safety and promoting personal wellbeing and health in the mining industry is challenging. ‘Zero harm’ is the target in an unforgiving, dynamic environment. Sharyn Macnamara (SM) speaks to Mark Anderson (MA), Specialised Exhibitions portfolio director, about what A-OSH EXPO offers visitors with this quest in mind.
The A-OSH EXPO 2023, to be held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand from 6 to 8 June 2023 offers health and safety professionals the power of four: A-OSH EXPO is co-located with the 30-year-old Securex exhibition, the established Facilities Management Expo and the recently launched Firexpo under one roof. The event brings together thousands of experts, products and services to address OSH issues from every angle and to make top of the hour developments available in one venue, over three days for busy mining professionals whose time means safety.
SM: Mark, how has A-OSH evolved over the 13 years since its inception and why do you believe the evolution has taken the route it has?
MA: To set the scene, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) originated in South Africa as far back as the early years after World War I when the government recognised the issue of serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace. The Factories Act, 1918 (Act no, 28 of 1918) was promulgated and set a standard then for OSH in the country and regulations moved with developments in the industry thereafter. The Factories, Machinery and Building Work Act, 1941 (Act no. 22 of 1941) replaced this original Act to include builders. The Machinery and Occupational Safety Act, 1983 (Act no. 6 of 1983) was later introduced and 10 years later was followed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act no. 85 of 1993), known well in the industry today. Many other related Acts have since been promulgated, not least of which is the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act no. 29 of 1996).
Similarly, A-OSH EXPO has moved with the industry evolving with regulations, industry trends and technology. Co-located with Securex since its inception 13 years ago, in its early years A-OSH was focused on the providers of personal protective equipment (PPE), OSH training, and thereafter increasingly on software to assist with OSH. Our offerings at the event have therefore been ever evolving and improving over time as the dynamic trends and tech change in the industries we serve.
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent lockdowns, created some of the greatest and fastest changes. We saw the obvious increasing emphasis on safety measures to provide increased protection for all individuals, including the obligatory masks, sanitisers and temperature scanners/cameras.
Fast-paced technology today continues to play an increasingly important role in the evolution of OSH– and therefore our event. For example, improved masks offer better protection for the employee, providing essential data such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and other vital signs of the individuals wearing them. Some of the more recent designs even have the capability to monitor how alert a worker is and if they are feeling fatigued!
Another strong trend influenced by COVID-19 is employee mental health, regarding the psychological wellbeing of individuals, together with psychosocial wellbeing – how people interact with one another.
A-OSH EXPO continues to keep its finger on the pulse of current industry trends and requirements, catering to the evolving needs of the market.
SM: What differentiates AOSH from other expos out there currently?
MA: A-OSH EXPO is not only Africa’s largest platform for organisations sourcing occupational safety and health (OSH) products and services, but it is the most comprehensive source for visitors seeking all things OSH-related. Simply put – there is no comparable competitive offering in the African market. From auditing tools; to disaster and environmental management; to fall arrest and working at height equipment; to first aid/medical supplies and training; to gas detection and monitoring equipment; to hazardous materials storage and handling; to noise control; to monitoring equipment and services; to services including ergonomics and wellness programmes; to PPE and more– it is all offered under one roof annually at our event and the time and cost-saving benefits are clear.
Furthermore, this year’s expo will have an increased focus on smart technology, as can be seen by Trigas’ Blackline lone-worker safety equipment. This tech allows organisations to connect with lone workers, in even the most remote locations, with reliable coverage in over 100 countries globally. The Blackline Safety connected gas detection and lone-worker monitoring technology includes built-in cellular connectivity, with optional satellite (available in selected regions) and portable bridge for remote or hard-to access locations; location technology, including geo-stamped alert status from any internet-connected device; and direct-to-cloud data streaming for real-time information and worker visibility at one’s fingertips.1
SM: What other exciting innovations trending at the moment will be present for mining visitors to delve into?
MA: In addition to smart PPE, like the Blackline solution, there are many other products and services focused on improving safety levels, increasing productivity, and ensuring a happy and healthy workplace. A case in point is the Saryx Engineering Group’s award-winning digital health and safety solution HSEC Online® cloud-based solution, which assists operations to eliminate the risks often encountered with manual health and safety filing systems.
GfG’s portable gas detectors for personal protection and the company’s fixed gas detection systems that monitor entire sites – ideally suited to the mining sector – will be showcased. The company also offers a wide variety of instrumentation with the most advanced sensor technologies for detecting flammable and toxic gases, vapours, and oxygen.
Also specialising in compliance level gas detection and providing safety for employees working in hazardous environments like mining, Runrite will be present too. The company also offers alcohol testers, including its brand new Alcolizer Centurion Quantum, all designed to ensure safe and responsible workplace environments, which is an example of another completely different end to the safety spectrum.
On yet another OHS level, VBS’ KuduWave, an industry-credited, clinically validated diagnostic audiometer – fully boothless, seamlessly integrating bone conduction and using high-frequency testing for screening and full diagnostic tests, it can be used to test and diagnose patient hearing in real-time in almost any location, including remotely – will be showcased.
SM: What are some of the highlights visitors can look forward to when it comes to information sharing by experts in the industry this year?
MA: Saiosh Health & Safety Conference held on 6 and 7 June has a great lineup of speakers and topics, one of which is “OHS and the Future of Work” to be presented by Bulelwa Huna, senior specialist Occupational Health and Hygiene at the Department of Employment and Labour. Dr Sanjay Munnoo – chief business development officer at Federated Employers Mutual Assurance and Saiosh president will tackle “The Impact of Occupational Injuries”. These are just two of the many expert talks visitors can look forward to.
The Saiosh powered free-to-attend Seminar Theatre running over the full three days of the exhibition will also include thought-provoking business intelligence presented by respected industry professionals on the entire spectrum of OSH. And for visitors interested in the field of working at height and its current regulatory aspects, there is a wealth of information available at the free-to-attend Working at Height Seminar Theatre.
There are dedicated seminar theatres and live demonstrations across all four co locates, including a K9 demo showcasing the way in which dogs are being used when it comes to security solutions.
SM: What are your expectations for A-OSH this year when compared with the show held last year, which was held under COVID-19 restrictions?
MA: We have a total of over 4 000m2 of floorspace already occupied this year for the four co-located exhibitions. A-OSH EXPO alone has almost 1 200m2 of floorspace for the 60-plus exhibitors already booked. In terms of numbers of visitors, we expect a higher number than last year. This is due to the fact that immediately post-COVID-19 lockdown, many people were still wary about attending in-person events. Within the past year confidence levels have soared and we look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to the exhibition.
SM: Mark, what is your advice to those visiting the show who may be overwhelmed by the size and the number of interactions available to enable the greatest leverage to be drawn from the event?
MA: We would recommend that visitors maximise their time at the expos by pre-registering to attend online and then set aside at least a day or more to completely absorb everything that is on offer at A-OSH and the Securex, Facilities Management Expo, and Firexpo co-locates.
Firstly, visitors should consult the A-OSH EXPO website ahead of a visit to plan which exhibitors’ products and services are most suited to their needs.
The seminar sessions at the Saiosh free-to-attend Seminar Theatre, and the free-to-attend Working at Height Theatre are also a prerequisite for mining visitors, and they can plan their exhibitor visits around the specific sessions and live demonstrations that pique their interest, bearing in mind that many of the exhibitors hold live demonstrations on their stands, making the whole experience very interactive and dynamic.
On arrival visitors will receive the expo catalogue and guide (which will include the detail of all the seminars). A daily newsletter will also be available to highlight the events of that day.
The networking and information-sharing opportunities available at A-OSH EXPO cannot be overstated – professionals also gather here to share perspectives from the broader risk and compliance sphere, assisting industry to proactively address gaps and areas for improvement.
To conclude, if you are implementing or upgrading your OSH systems and solutions, or you are simply looking for new technology to drive increased health and safety, improved productivity, and minimised downtime, then a visit to A-OSH EXPO should be a priority for you.
To register for free entry into the event, go to https://tickets.tixsa.co.za/event/a-osh-expo-south-africa-2023 or visit the AOSH website https://www.aosh.co.za/
Follow the African Mining digital bulletin and daily news for more information on what to expect at the event: