So many great booths, so many interesting people at the Forum for Prevention – it’s difficult to know where to start with reporting. It was quite a challenge for visitors to decide who to award innovation stars to; there were so many who deserved them!
The World Congress jingle played, the moderator announced the first round, and off they went: 209 presenters from all over the world were there with their different topics. A ten-minute presentation followed by a ten-minute discussion had been scheduled, but many visitors were so impressed by what they were hearing that they got talking to the presenters after just a few minutes. At the very beginning, a visitor from the Republic of Congo wanted to know the ins and outs of the Quest-Team GmbH concept, which posits that stronger employee participation in corporate processes and decision-making increases the satisfaction and therefore the health of the workforce. The problem was that the visitor could speak very little English. Not a problem for the presenters. In simple words, with lots of gesticulating and some translation support from me, the French-speaking participant was also able to follow the presentation and even ask questions.
And on to the next round. A visit to the presentation by the First International Youth Congress on Safety and Health at Work, organized by the DGUV campaign “Youth experience”. It was amazing to see what young people from six countries, including Japan, Azerbaijan, the UK and Germany managed to put together in just one day. They had met for the first time just the day before to prepare their presentation. A group of them put on a short pantomime to draw attention to workplace risks for trainees and young people starting their careers. “We were coached by a professional clown who helped us to use facial expression and body language to express our ideas as well as we could”, said Thomas and Daniel, two participants of the Youth Congress. Their colleagues presented an impressive poster in two languages on the topic of workplace stress, finishing off by chanting the motto of their talk: “Don’t work hard, work smart!”
The jingle once again, and then the next round. Natalie Skeepers, a dynamic South African, explained her model of creating a safe and healthy working environment for ageing employees. She had hung up photos of famous “older” people who are still actively pursuing their careers: Queen Elizabeth, Bill Clinton, and even Father Christmas! Next to them stood miniature models of the seven dwarves – also not exactly spring chickens but still working the mines after all these years. Natalie’s humorous ideas won her plenty of “innovation stars”. She is definitely a front runner for the visitors’ prize. An informative, well-structured presentation, perfectly accompanied by a touch of humour.
The last visit was to the interactive booth of the Unfallkasse Nord accident insurance where visitors were given a pair of glasses that simulate a state of strong inebriation, and then asked to complete some seemingly simple tasks. What seems easy when sober – walking alongside a rope, picking up a tennis ball or stepping over a small box – became impossible under the influence of the glasses. The idea is to make young people aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.
The two hours at the Forum were over in a flash. Without a doubt, the organisers’ aim was achieved – after the presentations many smaller and larger groups of people could be seen discussing topics they had in common, or which were new to them, learning from each other, joking and laughing. The Forum for Prevention was most definitely one of the highlights of the XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work!
Text: Elena Engelhardt