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Safety Counts

In the industrial park Lingen the companies are working together on labor protection 

"2403 days without a reportable accident at work." People, who drive through the main gate of the acrylic fiber manufacturer Dralon in the industrial park Lingen for the first time, wonder about the giant sign. Every employee, every supplier, every visitor passes it. For more than six years now the number on the sign have been increased by one digit every morning.


In the industrial park Lingen 190 employees of Dralon produce acrylic fibers, which are exported to Europe by truck or via the Port of Hamburg in the whole world. The main customer is the textile industry. The company is named after the famous Dralon fiber, which is valued for its warming properties, light fastness and weather resistance.


Since the opening of the plant in 1971 safety is one of the most important topics for Dralon. The location in Lingen was founded by the US company Monsanto. At that time America was a benchmark for security at the workplace. "The approach to the topic is historical and is still an integral part of our corporate philosophy," says production manager Günter Krummen. Today Dralon is part of the Italian Fraver Group.


Successful occupational safety and health (OSH) cannot be "prescribed". It requires the commitment of the workforce. OSH is a central component for them within the company. Every third employee is an active member in the plant fire brigade, which has 69 members in total. Every employee trains at least twice a month for two hours. Right in the job interviews Dralon makes sure to find responsible employees, who may also become involved in the work of the firefighters.


"Soon we’ll go to the exercise track. This is extremely exhausting, but a lot of fun," says Horst Grabow, full-time director of the plant fire brigade. He prepares the breathing masks for the forthcoming exercise. Grabow is also active in the volunteer fire brigade Lingen - a firefighter on the core. All colleagues accomplish the required exercises to wear respiratory equipment. The older employees not waive the renewal of their respiratory protection training until young people entering the workforce. Above a certain age, wearing the mask gets just too exhausting for the circulatory system.


Of course Dralon is just one example of successful work protection the industrial park Lingen. All companies pay attention on the occupational safety and health - with great success. The security professionals meet regularly to share experiences. Firefighters from Dralon and other companies can use the new practice course of the energy producer RWE. This course allows the employees to practice the difficult work using respirators under realistic conditions. Through the cooperation, the companies reduce the training costs for their fire brigades.


"It also happened that we have supported other companies during an alarm here in the industrial park," says fire service chief Grabow. During the day, at least nine employees of the companies’ fire brigade are on site, at night still six. Luckily, there is almost never an emergency. In the industrial park Lingen, there are developing many of those synergies. Since the establishment of the plant, RWE supplies the fiber manufacturers with steam, which is needed to run the various processes. The synergies result in good cooperations between the company fire brigades.


Dralon is always searching for improvement. “We have got a suggestion scheme, where our employees can contribute ideas, which we award," says production manager Günter Krummen. More than 400 proposals of his colleagues have been implemented over the years - many of them dealing with occupational safety.


Researchers see a direct link between health and safety and the quality of a company's products. Krummen confirms this link: "I am sure that our very low sickness rate of about two percent is also related to the measures on occupational safety and health promotion."