This photo shows the West Building at the Orange County Convention Center, where the Safety 2014 conference will take place. (Visit Orlando photo)

Getting Ready for Safety 2014

Orlando's spacious Orange County Convention Center welcomes ASSE's annual conference next month.

From a golf outing to a wellness walk and a silent auction, this year's Safety 2014 conference hosted by the American Society of Safety Engineers has a number of events that are not only educational, but enjoyable, as well. Taking place June 8-11 at the Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, Fla., the conference features a plenary session from key OSHA and NIOSH officials, a top-notch educational program, general sessions, breakout sessions, special events, and an expansive exhibit hall.

Expo and Educational Sessions
Safety 2014 offers more than 500 exhibitors and more than 200 breakout sessions. The conference's educational tracks include fire protection, ergonomics, construction, mining, oil and gas, industrial hygiene, hospitality, training, emergency management/security, environmental and hazardous materials, health care/wellness, risk management, and transportation.

In this year's plenary session—set for Tuesday, June 10, from 1-2 p.m.—Dr. John Howard, M.D., MPH, CIH, the director of NIOSH, and Dr. David Michaels, Ph.D., assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, will participate in a moderated discussion about critical issues affecting today's safety and health professionals. The plenary session also includes time for the speakers to field questions from the audience.

The conference also features two intriguing general sessions. New York Times staff writer Charles Duhigg is the presenter for the opening session on Monday, June 9 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit," will discuss habit formation, why habits exist, and how they can change. On Tuesday, June 10 from 7:30 to 9 a.m., Dr. Sidney Dekker will host a general session titled "Just Culture" in which he discusses why a just culture is critical for the creation of a safety culture in any organization, industry, or country.

Breakout sessions cover topics such as "Five Critical Elements for Managing an Ergonomics Program," "Vermiculite: The New Asbestos," and "The Active Shooter Threat." The conference also includes an Executive Summit Panel in which CEOs, presidents, and vice presidents from a variety of industries will discuss their experiences and offer advice.

Recreational Activities
If so many educational opportunities and meetings have your brain feeling overloaded with information (or your legs stiff from sitting all day), Safety 2014 also features a handful of recreational activities.

On Sunday, June 8 at 7:30 a.m., the ASSE Foundation hosts its annual golf outing at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando. And each morning of the event, the Central Florida Chapter, Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) and the Health and Wellness Branch will host a 1.7-mile morning walk. The walk leaves from the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Orlando at 6 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Those looking to really stretch their legs had an opportunity to participate in one of the conference's technical tours. They feature behind-the-scenes tours of Walt Disney World, Cirque du Soleil, Cintas, and Gatorland, which is home to more than 3,000 alligators and other animals. They had to act fast because, as usual for this event, all of the tours sold out well in advance.

A Tech-Savvy Conference
The Safety 2014 conference has its own app to help participants stay connected, organized, and informed. By using the app, participants can gain access to information on speaker presentations and session tracks (including speaker bios), an exhibitor guide, an interactive map, and more. App users can even create their own personalized agenda. The app works with iPhones, iPads, and Android-enabled devices.

Several attendance options are available for the conference, including one-, two- and three-day passes, as well as group rates and student rates. The conference website, www.safety2014.org, has all of the details.

Conference Hours:

  • June 8: 2-5:00 p.m.
  • June 9: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • June 10: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • June 11: 7:45 a.m.-4 p.m.

Expo Hours:

  • June 8: 2-5 p.m.
  • June 9: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • June 10: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Orlando Attractions
For those arriving early or staying late, Orlando has countless tourist activities, including the best-known ones: Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios. The city boasts seven theme parks in all and attracts visitors from around the world—a record 59 million of them in 2013 alone, Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel announced in April 2014 at a U.S. Travel Association conference. "Orlando continues to lead the nation as its most visited destination," Aguel said.

Visit Orlando reports the area is experiencing one of the most significant expansion periods ever, with Universal Orlando Resort opening "the world's first centrally themed, multi-park experience this summer by expanding The Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both of its theme parks," SeaWorld Orlando opening Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, and the Walt Disney World Resort doubling the size of Fantasyland when it opens the much-anticipated Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster attraction on May 28.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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