ASSE's Safety 2011 Thrives in Windy City

With more than 500 exhibitors on hand, all simultaneously vying for attention -- and with a recordbreaking number of attendees on the receiving end of that vying -- this year's show was especially bustling. Here are just a few of the sights, sounds, and goods that grabbed our attention.

CHICAGO--Safety 2011 was one for the record books.

Part of the fun of attending ASSE's annual Professional Development Conference is walking the expo floor and checking out all the products and services on display, many of which are being introduced for the very first time. This year was no different, except that, with more than 500 exhibitors on hand, all simultaneously vying for attention--and with a recordbreaking number of attendees on the receiving end of that vying--this year's show, which took place last week at Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center, was especially bustling.

Here are just a few of the sights, sounds, and goods that grabbed our attention, to give you an idea:

Australia-based Sensear (which also has a U.S. office in Larkspur, Calif.) set up shop under a ginormous set of headphones. The eye-catching booth was actually a replica of the company's flagship product, which is officially called a "high-noise communication device" that isolates and enhances speech while suppressing background noise. Different models of the devices are on display, and Chief Marketing Officer David Cannington says they all deliver 360 degrees binaural situational awareness to ensure users have complete awarneness of what is happening around them. "It's a new approach to hearing protection that combines communication, awareness, and protection, and none of our competitors can deliver these three benefits in one unit the way we can," he said.

Meanwhile, over at the Convergence Training booth, a Chris Farley impersonator attracted passersby by delivering a dead-on rendering of Matt Foley, the sweaty, overly large, would-be motivational speaker who lived in a trailer "down by the river." Farley made the recurring character a popular favorite on "Saturday Night Live" with his flailing arms and in-your-face antics, and Convergence's guy looked just like him. The Vancouver, Wash.-based company offers learning management software and custom training materials for the industrial market, specializing in the pulp and paper, mining, packaging/converting, manufacturing, and legal/forensic markets.

The Draeger booth featured a touch of eye-grabbing elegance in the form of a unique chandelier dangling from the sweeping hangar-like structure that arched over its gathering place. What made the chandelier a one-of-a-kind, highly appropriate creation is that it is formed of hundreds of the company's colorimetric gas detection tubes of assorted colors. It was a neat touch, but the reason Draeger came to town was to tell attendees about the new X-zone 5000, a portable area monitor that uses wireless technology patented by Draeger to group up to 25 gas monitors to create a local area alarm network. It can be used for confined space work, perimeter monitoring, and more.

DuPont Protection Technologies used Safety 2011 as the occasion to launch what sounds like a fun contest. Billed as the "Dirty Work Photo Contest," the idea is for wearers of DuPont's popular Tyvek garments to send in pictures of themselves in their filthiest state, showing what they look like wearing the duds after completing their particular type of dirty work. All people who wear Tyvek on the job and are over the age of 18 are eligible to enter the contest. Entries will be judged based on how well the Tyvek garment and "dirty work" project are portrayed in the photo (which should not show or depict a person in danger or in an unsafe condition). Winners will be announced at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Philadelphia in November. The grand prize winner will receive a NASCAR Racing Experience weekend trip for two to learn how to drive a stock car. The first runner up will receive a $500 American Express gift card, and the next two runners up will each receive a $250 Amex gift card. For eligibility, official rules, and an entry form, go to The website went live during the show.

It wasn't all fast cars and dirty pictures at the DuPont booth, though. The company was also there to further spread the news about SafeSPEC 2.0, an interactive online tool that the company introduced in April. Designed for the layperson and professional alike, the tool helps anyone interested make informed decisions about selecting the right chemical protective apparel for the job. It allows users to search by parameters that are tailored to their needs, including fabric, design, certification, and EPA/OSHA designation and hazard. The tool also provides industry-specific searches for construction; manufacturing; transportation and utilities; agriculture and public administration; and mining, oil and gas extraction. For more information, visit

Speaking of oil and gas extraction, Majestic Glove (Everett, Wash.) was "on hand" at Safety 2011 in part to introduce its new line of petrochemical gloves called the Knucklehead X10. This line of super heavy-duty hand protection features a sturdy "double-wishbone" PVC palm for grip, an elastic wrist to decrease the chances of a snag or pulling, Kevlar cut resistance, a Thinsulate winter lining, and water and hydrocarbon resistance. It comes in four models, including hi-vis orange and hi-vis yellow options.

North by Honeywell's newest product, the North Adaptec Protective Eyewear System, is impact protective eyewear that adjusts to three sizes. Even the nosepiece adjusts. Adaptec fits narrow, regular, and wide faces while affording maximum comfort, according to the company.

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