The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) brought together the largest group of occupational safety and health professionals who have ever participated in a virtual conference and exposition. Safety 2020: Virtual, held June 23-25, drew nearly 2,400 professionals who attended educational sessions and engaged with speakers, peers and exhibitors to learn the latest in workplace safety.
“The success of our virtual event demonstrates that workplace safety and health professionals want to stay current on best practices and industry trends, especially during a pandemic when our leadership is vital in helping solve new business challenges,” said ASSP President Diana Stegall, CSP, CFPS, ARM, SMS, CPCU. “ASSP adapts to the changing world of work to support the safety and health profession no matter the global circumstances.”
ASSP’s signature event is the nation’s largest annual conference for occupational safety and health professionals, who gain knowledge and network with peers to advance their careers and make organizations safer in every industry. Safety 2020: Virtual featured 60 educational sessions led by industry trendsetters who provided practical information safety professionals can use today and beyond to protect workers and enhance business operations. A live Q&A with the speakers enhanced each session by allowing attendees to exchange ideas in real time.
Three keynote presentations included one on pandemic response, and two plenary sessions had panelists discuss emerging tech trends and analyze how diversity and inclusion impacts productivity, profitability and safety.
Nearly 100 exhibitors hosted virtual booths to introduce their latest products and demonstrate safety and health equipment innovations in an interactive environment. The virtual expo hall was one of many components of ASSP’s in-person event that was mirrored in the online platform to create a unique conference experience.
Early feedback from attendees highlighted five benefits of a virtual format: 1) Attendees could pause and rewind recorded sessions to help them take better notes to share with their teams; 2) Live Q&A enabled interaction with speakers without stopping the session; 3) Virtual networking and a morning “Coffee with ASSP Board Members” helped ease anxiety related to networking, asking questions and engaging in professional dialogue; 4) Online access enabled those without a travel budget to attend; and 5) All sessions are accessible for 60 days post-event so attendees can view sessions they missed, allowing them to earn up to 6.5 continuing education units (CEUs) for career advancement – nearly four times as many as the in-person event.
Safety 2020 had more than 1,000 first-time attendees, making up 43 percent of the total attendance. Approximately 500 participants, or 21 percent of all attendees, were non-members. There were also more than 100 students who joined the virtual event, making up 5 percent of the overall crowd. All three customer segments signal future growth for ASSP and the occupational safety and health profession.
“We know people have been disappointed about so many events being cancelled across the country,” Stegall said. “Our virtual conference provided a positive experience in a new format for many people, and we know the educational content will help our attendees protect workers and advance the safety and health profession.”
Next year, ASSP’s traditional Professional Development Conference and Exposition is expected to return in Denver. Safety 2021 is set for June 6-9 at the Colorado Convention Center. It will mark the 60th year of the global event, which began in Chicago in 1962.