"It's important to me that employees develop an awareness of occupational health."
People behind REHAU: Judith Ranzinger
Judith has been a member of the REHAU HSE - Health-Safety-Environment team since July 2019. The 32-year-old from Upper Bavaria is responsible for all topics relating to occupational health management.
In keeping with World Health Day on April 7, we talked to Judith about the tasks she deals with as an Occupational Health Specialist, how her field of activity has changed over the last year, and how the HSE team are mastering the current challenges together.
Judith, you studied biology and sports science with a focus on occupational health management (OHM) and also completed training as an OHM specialist. For what reasons did you choose the occupational environment?
I have always been interested in people themselves and how they can be empowered to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We all spend a large part of our lives at work. As a result, everyday working life has a major impact on the health of each individual - both physically and mentally. This is exactly the awareness I would like to bring to our employees and managers. Everyone can make a small contribution in their working environment and thereby improve their health and wellbeing. Our health is an important asset that we should pay more attention to.
What motivated you to make the move to REHAU?
Before joining REHAU, I worked for a service provider for occupational health management and managed various projects in different companies throughout Germany. In doing so, I got to know the challenges of different corporate cultures and industries. However, in order to work on a project in the long term, I decided to take the step of moving permanently to a company.
At REHAU, I was particularly attracted by the international aspect with the different locations and the challenging task of establishing a holistic health management system that is tailored to the needs of all employees. The opportunity to drive forward the establishment and further development of a company health management system at REHAU in order to achieve the ISO 45001 standard for occupational health and safety was the icing on the cake for me personally.
What specific tasks are you entrusted with as an Occupational Health Specialist?
On one hand, I am responsible for carrying out and supervising the mental risk assessment. On the other hand, I am available as a contact person for all questions relating to the topic of health. My responsibilities also include promoting networking and cooperation between departments and the various sites. Since the beginning of last year, I have of course been working very intensively on the subject of Covid-19, as has the entire team. As an Occupational Health Specialist, it is my personal aspiration that we as an organization manage to develop an awareness of health in the workplace.
The Coronavirus has presented us all with new challenges. How has Covid-19 changed your tasks in the team?
At the beginning of the pandemic, of course, no one knew exactly what we would be facing. When I think back to how it all started last year: At that time, we set up a task force in the HSE team from 0 to 100 and reduced our "normal tasks" to a minimum. We also spent a lot of hours on the phone and answering emails during that time. For example, we had to organize ourselves in terms of how to deal with possible Covid cases in the organization. I also remember well when we had to report the first positive case at REHAU.
The big challenge continues to be the dynamic nature of the Covid-19 pandemic. You have to meet the constantly changing requirements and at the same time permanently adapt the measures in the company.
How would you say you were able to master the challenges of the past year as a team?
We are a very well-coordinated team. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were still on site in the office. Now, most of us work from home in the mobile office. As a team, we work very closely together to exchange information on important topics and keep each other up to date. The last year has brought us even closer together. We can rely on each other, which means that tasks go hand in hand and any challenge can be mastered as a result.
A big thank you also goes to the HSE coordinators and their crisis teams at the individual sites. Here, too, the task was to implement the specifications as quickly as possible and adapt them to country-specific rules. We as the HSE team know that the effort is worthwhile and that we help everyone in the company feel safe.
What topics are you currently working on in the team?
If we stay with the topic of Covid-19, it is currently the issues of rapid tests and vaccinations that we are dealing with intensively. It is important to us to provide employees with comprehensive information and offer them the best possible support.
Through Coronavirus, the topic of "mental health" in particular is increasingly coming into focus. We want to focus more on this issue and deal with it in greater depth. This topic is currently also being dealt with as part of the mental risk assessment.
The topic of mental health will become even more prominent in the future. How can you maintain your own mental health?
I can only recommend everyone to look at their mental health and accept that you can't always feel good and in a positive mood. Rather, it is important to admit feelings and, as a first step, to talk about them with other people. I cannot recommend an exact measure in this context, since the spectrum is diverse and something different is good for everyone. For example, I am less likely to relax through a relaxation course; a day in the mountains is much more helpful to me. It's best to try out a few things and develop an awareness of your resources. It is also important to ask yourself the question: "How can I recharge my batteries?", "What makes me happy?" or "What is good for me personally?
What would you recommend to make everyday life in the mobile office more successful and to maintain contact with other employees?
My first tip for everyday life in the mobile office is structure. Structure your workday at home and schedule fixed times. Schedule time for your lunch break and for short breathers in between.
Something that is even more important and at the same time more difficult to implement in the mobile office is maintaining contact with colleagues. Talking is especially helpful during this difficult time. Take the time to pick up the phone and use it more often, even for minor questions. I personally talk on the phone a lot and even small questions like "How are you feeling?" or "How are you dealing with the current situation?" have led to very open and good conversations.
Thank you very much for the interview, Judith!