Showgoers at this year’s PPAI Expo will notice a few changes they can’t miss—like the fact that they can remain on a single level and see the entire show.

But there’s also a major change that’s subtle but critical to distributors’ businesses. All of the exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers at this show have attained Product Safety Aware status. This means that each company (regardless of membership category) has designated a roster employee who has completed a minimum of four hours of product safety education in advance of the show and serves as the company’s Product Safety Ambassador.

PPAI’s Product Safety Awareness (PSA) program was originally announced during The PPAI Expo 2014 and went into effect at Expo East in March 2015. The program is designed to foster an industry-wide commitment and culture where companies are not only educated about product safety but engaged in the discussion.

“The 2016 PPAI Expo marks the first time that distributors can be confident that every single exhibitor on the show floor possesses at minimum a basic understanding of his or her compliance obligations,” says Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO. “I am not aware of any other trade show in any industry that can make such a claim.”

PPAI Board Chair Rick Brenner, MAS+, says, “To risk turning away advertisers and exhibitors who weren’t willing to go through PPAI’s Product Safety Aware training has taken a deep commitment to the welfare of the industry on the part of PPAI’s visionary leadership, board of directors and our Product Responsibility Action Group (PRAG). And once the Product Safety Aware initiative was established, implementing it and providing hundreds of training sessions has taken a massive and complex effort on the part of PPAI’s highly capable staff.”

The achievement was a massive undertaking in terms of education and communication for PPAI, and the program did experience some opposition early on from companies who believed the program either didn’t apply to their business or the education requirement was excessive. However, PPAI has been the industry’s reliable source on product responsibility for a number of years and it believes this initiative continues to build on those efforts.

“At the core of PPAI’s mission is an obligation to protect and grow the industry,” explains Bellantone. “The Product Safety Awareness Program is part of a larger PPAI initiative to create confidence in promotional products as an advertising medium at every level. Our PSA work is designed to instill confidence in the industry, a commitment to product responsibility and reinforce that message to make it an essential element in the culture of the industry as a whole.”

Brenner adds, “At our Product Responsibility Summit held in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, it was heartening to hear Elliott Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) laud PPAI as the gold standard by which all associations should follow. Congratulations to all who had a role in the success of this exceptional one-of-a-kind-anywhere-on-earth association policy.”