Safety first! Because we care.
When it comes to the safety of our employees, we don't joke around. For us, occupational safety and health form the basis of our everyday actions. Even though comparatively few accidents happen at our shipyard and our accident frequency rate is falling steadily, one thing is certain: Those who work at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems should be safe and stay healthy. Every day and at every workplace.
Please fasten your seatbelt
We spoke to David Mißfelder, Head of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, about the challenges of occupational safety at our Kiel shipyard. He has been involved in occupational safety, health protection and management development for the last 17 years. After holding positions at thyssenkrupp Steel, Elevator, Automotive and Bilstein, he joined Marine Systems in August 2021 and he is now responsible for all tasks related to work safety.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in occupational safety?
David Mißfelder: Occupational safety and health connect the worlds between people and technology. However, the focus is on the interaction with employees. The major challenge is to communicate the topic in an accessible and engaging way. Accompanying the positive changes is very satisfying and meaningful to me.
What is important in terms of work safety at the shipyard in Kiel?
David Mißfelder: Our goal is zero accidents and, above all, we must do everything we can to ensure that serious and fatal accidents do not or cannot occur. Together, we ensure that our colleagues can always return safely to their families and friends every evening, after every shift.
What are the greatest challenges when it comes to occupational safety at the shipyard?
David Mißfelder: Our biggest challenge is to communicate to employees how important it is to change their attitudes and behaviors regarding their safety, not only at work but also in their private lives, thus fundamentally increasing mindfulness. Occupational safety is determined only to a small part by rules and our code of conduct, the much larger part are self-responsible actions of our colleagues and a clear understanding regarding benefits and values. It’s the basis for safe work and contributes significantly to the company's performance and success.
How big is the OSH team at the Kiel shipyard? And what does the day-to-day work of you and your colleagues look like?
David Mißfelder: Currently, we are 17 OSH specialists, physicians, medical staff and health promoters at the Kiel site. Our specialists are at the shipyard's plants and facilities every day, organizing safe working environments and talking to colleagues. In no other career is communication so important, and in no other job do you have daily conversations at every level of the company. In the morning, strategy with general management, then discussions with production staff during walk-throughs, and improvement meetings with all levels of management in the afternoon.
And our medical service takes care of the big and small worries of our employees. In case of emergency, together with the plant fire department, we attend to accidents in a matter of minutes, regardless of where the emergency occurs. In the area of health promotion, we offer a wide range of activities, from sports to mental health.
What are projects, measures, and successes in the area of occupational safety that you are particularly proud of?
David Mißfelder: It is a fantastic challenge to identify unsafe conditions and unsafe actions that need to be remedied and that we need to work through together with the employee.
The best moments are when we see concretely that our employees carry their principles with them into their families and also act in a safe and healthy way in their private lives. When our employees' children go to school in winter wearing high-visibility vests and are thus always clearly visible in road traffic, and thyssenkrupp parents have initiated this through our education and behavioral influence, then we can only be proud, and we have fulfilled our mission.
How do you overcome the challenges of communicating the relevance and importance of OSH to all employees?
David Mißfelder: By integrating the issue of safety and health into the reality of every employee's life. None of our managers wants to take on the most difficult of tasks. This task would be to tell the relatives after a fatal accident: "Your husband, your wife, your father, your mother, your child will never come home again". This worst-case scenario must be prevented at all costs. But it doesn't always have to be the ultimate threat; talking to your co-workers about how an accident would affect your personal life is often enough. No soccer with friends for 6 weeks, no bike ride with the family, no romping with the kids, and all because we spent 2 seconds working unsafely, 3 seconds not paying attention, or 4 seconds watching another employee move unsafely in the work environment.
Creating safety together – that is what drives David Mißfelder and his team every day. Their goal? Turning colleagues into a community of responsibility and sharpening our focus on safety and health. Not only at work, but also in our private lives.