Safety at Evonik

European 112 day

A job for the safety experts

European 112 Day is held on February 11 and the objective is to promote awareness and appropriate use of the emergency number throughout Europe. At Evonik’s Rheinfelden site, it is the job of head of safety, Kerstin Janzen, to ensure that the emergency number is rarely needed.

Almost every German citizen travels to another European country at least once every year. But a survey organized by the European Union showed that very few of them know that the number to call in an emergency is 112. European 112 Day is held on February 11 and the objective is to promote awareness and appropriate use of the emergency number throughout Europe.

At Evonik, safety is the top priority. At the Rheinfelden site, head of safety, Kerstin Janzen, is responsible for ensuring that it is seldom necessary to call 112. She coordinates all activities relating to plant and occupational safety as well as plant security and fire protection. Ms. Janzen heads the occupational safety specialist team, which deals with safety issues across all sites in Germany and in the Antwerp site. “Our task in plant safety is to be prepared for any eventuality,” she says. “We are well equipped to ensure the safety of the population, our employees, and the environment. Safety is our top priority.” 40 people from plant and occupational safety, and plant safety are employed in her department.

A key part entails coordination of the site fire department which consists of full-time and part-time firefighters. The 50 firefighters take part in training sessions every week. Once every year, they take part in a major emergency drill together with the voluntary fire department of the town of Rheinfelden. “These drills are critical if we are to optimize the interaction of all the teams involved. Only by taking part in such exercises, can we be sure that everything will work properly in the event of an emergency,” she explains. Her department also has seven large fire trucks, including turbo extinguishers, and seven smaller emergency vehicles, which must all be serviced on a regular basis.

In addition to the firefighters, Janzen also briefs some 30 incident managers at the Rheinfelden site on emergency situations. If an incident should occur, these managers are responsible for ensuring that the reporting chains are working and that any damages are limited and quickly brought under control. The incident managers are the first people to hear about anything that occurs. This allows them to react quickly and take measures to protect the people on site and the environment.

“Essentially, the most important part of my work is to keep employees informed about safety measures and to make sure that they believe in the effectiveness of these measures. If these measures are to work, all our colleagues must be fully informed,” says Janzen. She is currently working on the introduction of the “Lockout Tagout” system. This system employs a structured procedure to ensure that the dangerous energy that is produced in machines and equipment cannot be released in an uncontrolled manner during maintenance work, with the potential to cause damage to persons or to the environment. “My goal is to make our plants better and safer all the time. This is an ongoing process,” she points out.

The authorities also take a keen interest in safety issues at the site. As the incident officer, Janzen must ensure that the regulatory requirements are fulfilled. During the relevant inspections, the experts can inspect the safety measures in place.

Ms. Janzen has been at Evonik for 15 years. She began her career with the company as a plant engineer at the Lülsdorf site. Six years ago, she moved to Rheinfelden to head the safety department. “What I especially like about my job is that I manage very diverse task areas, which are all interrelated. A lot of different activities come together in my role. So, not only do I have lots of contact with employees from nearly every department on site, but I can also pass on knowledge from one department to another,” she says.