Consulting Spotlight

From Fruit Bowls to Managing Occupational Health and Safety

Steinbeis Consultant Helps Company Launch New OHS Program

Health is much more than not feeling ill. For Ulrike Niethammer, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Occupational Health Management, a healthy work environment means promoting the physical, mental and social wellbeing of co-workers, even over the long term.

Last year, more German employees registered sick days at work than in the previous 14 years. The average worker was sick for 14.7 days. Given the lack of human resources and the aging workforce, the active promotion of health and availability to work is growing in importance as a key management task. Introducing an occupational health program makes it easier to develop an appealing culture in the workplace which focuses on employees. It also helps match the workplace to age requirements.

Salutogenetic models involve examining which factors have a positive impact on people’s health. One of the challenges of OHS is how to apply salutogenetic principles to a work environment and all relevant areas of activity, such as teamwork, work processes, or the attitude and actions of senior management and direct-line bosses.

Niethammer and co-workers at her Steinbeis Consulting Center believe that consistently involving employees raises the degree to which they identify with company values and goals. Work satisfaction and a good workplace atmosphere have a positive impact on long-term work relationships, although people have to be clear about the fact that it takes more than the occasional sports event or sharing a bowl of fruit. Again, the key aspect here is sustainability. By carefully planning OHS concepts, not only can business processes be taken into account, but special target groups can also be considered, who would otherwise do little for their own health.

Drawing on the example of one of her clients, Elsässer Filtertechnik GmbH, Niethammer shows the impact that consistent OHS management can have on the work environment and the overall success of the company. The Nufringen-based company was the first firm in Germany to gain certification under the DIN standard for occupational health management, SPEC 91020. According to Niethammer, the exemplary implementation of OHS management worked excellently because the CEO of the company was fully behind it.


Ulrike Niethammer
Steinbeis Consulting Center Occupational Health Management (Herrenberg)

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Steinbeis offers short consulting sessions free of charge to small and medium-sized enterprises, which allow them to tap into sources of technology and know-how. Firms are put in touch with experts in the Steinbeis network, receive detailed advice and are provided with various information on new products, technologies and processes.

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New Version of the Company Competence Check© (UKC)

The Steinbeis Foundation offers the Company Competence Check© (UKC) to provide companies with a well-founded and practical instrument for analyzing business competence across the board. Steinbeis consulting experts are currently working on an extension to the instrument to include further application areas within organizations – e.g., at universities, research bodies, hospitals, care centers and in public administration.

This adapted and overhauled version, the Organization Competence Check (OKC) will use different aspects of each field as a key reference point. The experts are currently using and testing an initial quick check version of the OKC in a real-life context as part of a comprehensive case study analysis. As with the original UKC, the results of the pilot study will be used to further develop the OKC. Subsequent development will involve close collaboration with Steinbeis experts as well as outside experts working in specially formed Steinbeis Consulting Groups (SCGs).

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