What’s it like at a safety conference and expo with the pandemic still making daily news?
“These are still crazy times,” said one exhibitor at the VPPPA Safety+ national meeting. She doesn’t know if she’ll be attending the next safety conference in a few weeks or not. Another has definite plans to take a half dozen customers to dinner at that meeting. Everyone seems to have their own strategies and contingency plans.
Some attendees shake hands. Some fist pump. Some wear masks. Some don’t. Some attend virtually, watching sessions on their computers from home offices. Some go to the live workshops in the sprawling Opryland.
Safety + is a paperless conference. No convention printed guide. It’s downloaded from an app. Badges are printed out by scanning a bar code.
The line up of sessions is far-ranging. Several address the pandemic: APR in the Covid era. Maintaining employee engagement in a Covid-19 environment. Arc-rated clothing during Covid-19.
Other topics: wearable tech, the art of storytelling, risk reduction lifecycle, the neuroscience of situational awareness, serious injuries and fatalities.
The talk among attendees and exhibitors often drifts to back home. Improvised childcare. Moves back to the office postponed. Family vacations disrupted. When will there be a vaccine for three-year-olds?
Talk among exhibitors can’t avoid how the pandemic has impacted the market. Supply chain delays. Material shortages. Some ports open, some closed. A container shortage. A shortage of truck drivers.
But attendees and exhibitors who have come to Nashville for the meeting are determined to see it through. One vendor is having a rooftop cocktail party with a band downtown. “You’re all invited,” smiles a booth rep. “It’ll be a good time.”