Editor, UBM

June 17, 2016

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How exhibitions have shaped the future of occupational health

Safety and Health Expo IMG_5562Rob Brauch, business unit manager at Casella, offers his view on how supporting exhibitions like Safety & Health Expo helps to shape the future of the industry.

As a veteran product developer and business leader in the field of Occupational Health, I’ve been able to bring meaningful innovation to the practitioners of this important discipline. Knowing that the products I help to develop and get to market can measure, monitor, and mitigate health hazards found in the workplace, and maybe even help save and enhance the lives of some of the workers in them, is a gratifying feeling.

But people like me need quality ‘face time’ with the professionals we try to support through our ongoing launches of new tech solutions – allow me to explain.

Shows are vital for the opportunity to share ideas and information with like-minded people, giving visitors the chance to contribute to the progression of their occupational sector. This is extremely important in the occupational health sector, and here’s why:

When I entered this field over three decades ago, measurement technology was changing; we saw the proliferation of the then-new microprocessor and the advent of low cost desktop computing power. Those two technologies brought about the development of many more ways to measure and record exposure data in real time and allowed for some miniaturisation of sensors to take place.

This drove the creation of portable, hand-held or even bodily mounted instrumentation to accurately measure and document exposure for many more physical and chemical agents than had been previously possible. To help meet new regulatory requirements and stay below the exposure guidelines, powerful new data logging real-time monitors came to market and were snapped up by folks who were hungry to correlate exposure levels to specific points of time in the workday.

As time went by, this period of rapid innovation started bumping up against the economic realities of smallish unit sales opportunities and the economic limitations of niche instrumentation markets, especially in the safety, health and environmental disciplines. Although, most products continued to get smaller; more features were added (many of which didn’t add practical value in this writer’s humble opinion). This period also saw significant consolidation in the supplier ecosystem, with many small innovative entrepreneurial companies becoming part of enormous and highly resourced (if not highly agile) global businesses.
Now more than ever, exhibitions are thriving. We are now in an unprecedented period of technological advancement that will forever change the sampling methods, practices, processes and strategies that have been stagnating under the combined weight of meaningless feature creep. We need to leave behind the ‘this is the way we’ve done it’ mentality on the part of vendors and practitioners of the art, respectively.

There is a revolution underway, led by breakout technologies that have transformed the lives of everyone in the world – it is projected there will be 6.6 billion smartphones in use by 2020 – and that is just the tip of the spear. While each of those smartphones contains more computing power than that of your PC just a decade or two ago, it’s the ‘apps’, and embedded or ‘bolt-on’ sensors now being developed that will likely transform every scientific field of endeavour – especially those which rely on field measurements to collect data to drive decisions and outcomes that help preserve health and improve quality of life.

Like occupational health.

Research in fields like nanotechnology, material science and biotech are truly spurring enormous advances in sensing and imaging. Innovative new tech start-ups are beginning to appear again on the occupational health instrumentation landscape, and at the same time, some of the largest and most consistent businesses are well resourced, focused and positioned to develop great new solutions.

This then, is my admonition – NOW is the BEST time to put aside a little more time to walk that exhibition floor, engage and challenge the vendors – big and small – to demo and share not only their wares but also their vision and trajectory, and in turn, offer them your best ideas and inputs – even disclose your worst ‘pain points’ in the work that you do today so these discussions can become the fodder for new product development teams. Push your own personal exposure time in the exhibit hall above the ‘Action Level’ and get involved in shaping and influencing the future tools of your trade.

To do any less impedes our common interest in developing new technology for solving future exposure assessment challenges and creating the safest and healthiest work environments possible – while allowing tomorrow’s workers to continue designing, testing, and manufacturing the new products, materials and services that in turn keep feeding this stunning technological revolution – the likes of which have never been seen before. Think about it – will YOU be there?

The team from Casella UK will be exhibiting on stand N2100 at Safety and Health Expo at the London Excel between 21- 23 of June.

Register for your free ticket today.

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