34th International Congress Highlights Good Health at Work

The event will be held in Düsseldorf, Germany in conjunction with A+A 2015 and is organized by the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi).

Held in tandem with A+A 2015, the 34th International Congress on Health and Safety will feature a total of 60 events that cover "the full spectrum of current issues in matters of health, safety and ergonomics," reports Bruno Zwingmann, president of the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi), which is the Congress organizer. It is expected to attract 5,500 visitors, he wrote recently.

Health at work, particularly workers' mental health, is a prominent theme. "'Mental health' requirements are indeed at the top of the list when we look at stress in our modern, globally networked working environment – a world which is currently entering a new phase of far-reaching changes through digitization, with Industry 4.0 as the key phrase," Zwingmann asserted. "Today's 'burnt-out' individual is subject to communication overkill, continually under pressure to be creative and positive while also having to market and manage themselves perfectly; yet there are many indications that such a person is, as it were, a prototype that illustrates the negative impact of our modern working life (and habitat) on the individual."

His message about the upcoming Congress said, "We may well be witnessing a 'new era' for health and safety here. To put it in a nutshell, there seems to be a time before and after the Rana Plaza disaster," adding that the Consolidated Action Plan for Sustainable Textiles from the German Development Secretary and an initiative called Good Work Worldwide, launched together with the German Employment Secretary, aim to ensure sustainability and fair working conditions throughout the supply chain.

Another theme is the potential of preventive health care, describing it as a key to business success. In 2012 in Germany, 48 percent of citizens aged 60-65 were employed, he noted. "The days seem to be over when a company's workforce were 'highly athletic' with almost nothing but young people in employment, particularly in production."

The Congress' opening event will include a speech by the German Employment Secretary Andrea Nahles, the presentation of the German Health and Safety Award and a high-level debate between employers and trade unions, and for the first time, a keynote speech for all visitors will start each morning and afternoon.

The Congress' international program will feature the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Social Security Organization (ISSA), the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the Dublin Foundation, the Republic of Korea, and various international occupational health and safety association.

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