Short road to success

By Wendy Cramer
Monday, 04 September, 2006

The Safety Show, Sydney has enjoyed incredible success and growth in the relatively short time since its inception. Safety Solutions takes a look back at the evolution of this event and takes a look forward at what to expect for 2006.

It didn't take long for Australian Exhibitions and Conferences (AEC) to convince exhibitors that it was time for Sydney to have its own safety show when it launched the idea in 2003.

Melbourne's Safety In Action was already well established, and in Marie Kinsella's own words (managing director at AEC), "Sydney was hungry for a specialist safety show".

In fact, Kinsella had a battle on her hands to keep the show at a relatively intimate size for the first year with companies fighting it out on a waiting list to exhibit at the show.

"For the first show in 2003, we had about 150 exhibitors confirmed and a long waiting list. But we purposely kept it to one hall, as we weren't sure how industry would embrace it," she told Safety Solutions.

"Half an hour after opening, it was the busiest I can remember a first show being. We had 5100 attend, which is phenomenal. The numbers were steady from the moment it opened until late in the day."

Kinsella added that there were high expectations from visitors from the moment the show opened, and AEC had deliberately hand-selected the exhibitors in order to provide attendees with a good cross-section of safety products and services.

Exhibitors, too, have embraced the show from the outset. More than 55 companies have exhibited at every show since its beginning, and will be there again in 2006.

One such company is Martor Australia, which had no qualms about partnering with the exhibition when it was first announced for 2003. Marketing manager, Robert Cobban said it was not at all a difficult decision to make to exhibit at an inaugural event, as the company had already enjoyed a lot of success from participating in Melbourne's Safety In Action.

"We felt comfortable about signing up, as we knew it was the organiser doing the Sydney show that organised the event in Melbourne."

And Martor found the first event so successful, it has been involved ever since. According to Cobban, the show has gone from strength to strength. He has seen an increase in the volume of visitors coming through the door, and says the quality of the companies attending has also increased.

"We meet a lot of new customers, new contacts and potential customers from exhibiting at the show. We get the chance to show new products, which we have regularly coming out, and can get them to a wider audience in just a few days," Cobban says.

An analysis of the show's statistics quickly shows just how rapid the growth has been. In 2003, 158 exhibitors showcased their products and services to 5226 visitors. In 2004, the number of exhibitors nearly doubled to total 271; the number of visitors also jumped dramatically to hit 8070. Last year, there were 287 exhibitors and 10,370 visitors.

"The Sydney Safety Show has experienced huge growth in just a few years. In that same period of time, NSW has taken huge leaps ahead in safety and is looking for solutions," Kinsella says.

"A visitor to the show can compare products and order them on the spot and have their safety problems solved just by attending."

The show also gained a certain level of credibility right from the start, as WorkCover NSW endorsed the event as its major sponsor from 2003.

The NSW regulator will be the major sponsor again in 2006, with the event sitting right in the middle of National Safety Week.

Kinsella believes the Sydney show to be unique in a number of ways. While many of the exhibitors may be the same as at the Melbourne event, she says there is definitely a different vibe about the show.

"Sydney is often seen as a gateway to Australia and the Sydney show is now attracting a lot of international visitors, especially from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands."

Attending exhibitions such as this as a visitor is also a good opportunity to pick the brains of the many safety experts that are assembled under one roof.

In 2006 the popular 'safety tours' will be expanded. These are a range of scheduled events that focus on a particular area of safety and take visitors on tours to exhibitors that have new products on display within that particular theme.

Past tours have encompassed the topics of height safety, machine guarding and confined spaces. This year, Kinsella has added spill control to the list. Visitors who elect to go on these tours can also ask as many questions as they like of the 'expert' conducting their tour.

Health and safety continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, and with regulators continuing to introduce tighter guidelines, a record number of visitors is expected to attend the Sydney Safety Show in 2006.

Safety Conference 2006

The Safety Conference aims to provide delegates with the most recent developments, ideas, trends and real-life case studies in the safety profession and is held in tandem with the Safety Show.

Hosted by the Safety Institute of Australia, this year's conference opens with an International Breakfast hosted by Eddie Greer, president elect at the American Society of Safe Engineers. He will discuss the Role of the International Network of Safety & Health Practitioner Organisations.

This year's special interest streams will include one dedicated to the WorkCover NSW Research Centre of Excellence. Staff and the recipients of WorkCover research grants will detail how their research will prevent or minimise workplace injury and ideas, or add to the availability of high quality education and training in injury prevention, management and rehabilitation.

The Safety Show and Conference will run from 17-19 October at the Dome, Hall 2 and Southee Complex of the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

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