The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) held its biggest safety conference and exposition in the event’s 56-year history as ASSE’s Safety 2017 Professional Development Conference & Exposition in Denver attracted 5,244 attendees and 640 exhibitors in June, easily surpassing its previous highs. Attendance was up 23 percent from last year’s event.

ASSE’s Safety 2016 in Atlanta attracted 4,255 attendees, while 4,182 safety professionals came out to Safety 2015 in Dallas. The conference’s previous record crowd occurred at Safety 2011 in Chicago, which attracted 4,535 participants during the Society’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Safety 2017 featured 2,135 newcomers to the event, making up 45 percent of the total attendance. That percentage of first-time attendees has remained the same for the past three conferences. Nearly one-fourth of this year’s crowd consisted of non-members, which totaled 1,296.

On the exposition side, the final count of 640 registered exhibitors at Safety 2017 surpassed the event record of 615 from Safety 2015 in Dallas. This year’s product showcase covered 113,805 square feet at the Colorado Convention Center, topping the 104,473 square feet taken up by exhibitors two years ago at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

Next year’s safety conference and exposition is set for June 3-6, 2018, in downtown San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on the banks of the San Antonio River Walk. The convention center was recently transformed through a $325 million capital improvement project, the largest in the City of San Antonio’s history.