SECURITY and OH&S in the Exhibition Industry - Introducing IELA's Standards of Performance


During the UFI Association's Meeting in Shanghai we had the pleasure to meet Loredana Sarti, AEFI's General Secretary. Loredana invited us to join AEFI's next Technical Committee Meeting to be held in Bologna on March 9th.

Guido Fornelli, IELA Board Member and Industry Relations Working Group Chair, and I had the pleasure to meet 15 Operations Directors from all over Italy in order to introduce IELA, our Standards of Performance and OH&S guidelines.

Following the presentation we took a couple of minutes to interview Loredana. Here is a brief outline of the main points of our conversation:

Loredana Sarti, AEFI General Secretary

1.  Loredana, we want to thank you wholeheartedly for this excellent opportunity to be in Bologna. What was your main interest in inviting us here?

The agreement between IELA and AEFI is one of our international promotion initiatives for the Italian trade fair system. We have large and small exhibition districts here in Italy, all directed towards international market expansion. This partnership will in our view be particularly useful to small trade fairs. Thanks to IELA’s network of professionals logistics operators present worldwide, it will be easier to organise exhibitions that also take place in far and distant countries.

When I heard Mariane's presentation of your activities at the UFI Association Committee in Shanghai, I noticed that many of the issues you dealt with were under discussion in our Technical Committee. I discussed this and we immediately deemed it important to familiarise ourselves with your global experience in order to take the appropriate decisions in Italy.

I refer to shared decisions. As you will have understood at the meeting in Bologna, a very tightly knit collaborative network operates between our 35 member districts regarding fundamental issues. 

2. Your members were very pleased with the outcome of the presentation and discussions. What value do you think has been delivered?

Firstly you communicated an important message: that problems are shared all over the world and are shared among Trade Fairs and logistics operators. You advanced very important solutions and experiences, but above all you confirmed that sharing knowledge creates better solutions. 

Among your proposal, a very simple one attracted my interest, namely having offices for you at the centre of trade fairs. It occurred to me how useful this is for exhibitors: during previous work experience I travelled miles looking for your members, with whom I was collaborating to implement an initiative. 

3. Security as well as Operation Health & Safety Guidelines are the foundations for a safe working environment. This factor is extremely important, not only for the freight forwarders but for the venue owners, organisers and exhibitors. What do you think associations such as AEFI and IELA can do for a safer exhibition industry?

To face new, dramatic needs concerning these issues, I believe two things are useful: sharing guidelines and continuous updating. This ensures over time the adoption of the best solutions to resolve problems. As Associations, we will then have to act individually to help each other to adapt. 


We also asked Guido Fornelli some questions:

1. Guido, how was the experience?

It was really a great experience! I met many great personalities of our Italian Trade Fair Market, I talked about very important topics for our business, health, safety and security during events, but, most of all, I had the chance to present once again our Association to the most important event organisers in Italy, my own Country. I felt once again very proud to be a Board Member of IELA more important to work together with Elizabeth to gain organisers attention to our view as Exhibition Logistic Provider.

2. Did Show Organisers express any specific preoccupation about safety?

Of course, safety is a top issue for show organisers; what they sell to exhibitors and visitors is an all-inclusive package for a successful event, everything has to go all right, obviously safety included.

No one better than trade fair organisers know how lively it is the border between success and fail of an exhibition: if something goes wrong or intercepts the interest of visitors, the exhibition fails right away. In Italy there are a lot of legal implications as well that make 100% safety challenge even more difficult.

3. Would you like to share any feedback from this experience?

I personally noticed an increased attention towards health and safety topics: Italian Venues are 100% focused on them.

Security is anyhow another issue which became tremendously popular not only for Venues and Organisers but for all the players of our industry, and it’s most probably the topic which all of us should pay our utmost attention to and get involved with. In fact actual security procedures are to be implemented in the nearest future. Now the organisers look forward to very much enhanced risk assessment and management, as Simon Garrett explained us in his IELA Dublin speech.


IELA International Exhibition Logistics Association
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