June 17, 2016
In June of this year, the Department of Occupational Medicine and Health Protection at BASF received the honorary award from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Arbeits- und Umweltmedizin (German Society of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – DGAUM). In presenting the award, DGAUM acknowledged 150 years of successful work in science and practice. Since 2012, the honorary award has been presented to persons or institutions for their special accomplishments in occupational and environmental medicine. DGAUM President, Prof. Dr. med. Hans Drexler, presented the award to the head of BASF's occupational medicine, Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Lang.
“The Occupational Medicine and Health Protection Department at BASF SE, which is also a teaching clinic for the University of Mainz School of Medicine, has used tremendous dedication to make a significant contribution to the further development of occupational medicine and the health of all employees over the past 150 years,” declares Professor Drexler in his laudatory speech. He adds that the department has enriched occupational medicine through a wide variety of scientific analyses and publications. “BASF occupational medicine focuses on a wide variety of topics with considerable excellence in their scientific work, as well as their operational practice: These range from occupational medical prevention and advice to health promotion and acute medical care to epidemiology and biological monitoring,” says Drexler. He adds, “BASF occupational medicine serves as a role model for occupational medical facilities in large-scale industry and for the occupational medical care for employees in small and medium-sized businesses.”
The success story of the Occupational Medicine and Health Protection Department at BASF in Ludwigshafen begins in 1866, one year after the founding of BASF. At that time, the 43-year-old physician, Dr. Karl Knaps from Ludwigshafen was the first company physician at the “Badische Anilin- & Sodafabrik” and the first factory physician in the chemical industry in Germany. He represents the start of occupational medicine at BASF 150 years ago.
It all started with him: Dr. Karl Knaps is the first company physician at the Badische Anilin- & Sodafabrik.
The BASF hospital for pulmonary diseases for employees suffering from tuberculosis opens in Dannenfels. This is the first medical facility for workers suffering from tuberculosis in Europe.
The first outpatient clinic in Ludwigshafen features state-of-the-art equipment: There are an operating room, laboratory, physiotherapy room, X-ray device, inhalation equipment, and dental equipment.
The company physician Dr. Ernst Westhoven establishes a working group for industrial hygiene and toxicological issues. As of this time, BASF physicians begin to systematically research hazards created by chemical substances.
During World War I, two battlefield hospitals are set up. Patients are treated by two company physicians.
The BASF nurses moved into their own house and opened an outpatient’s clinic for the workers’ wives and children. Facilities also include a dairy kitchen for infants. A maternity ward was added in 1894. The ward also offered medical consultation for gynecology and pediatric care.
The plant was almost completely destroyed at the end of World War II. The number of tuberculosis cases tripled, typhoid was rampant and people were undernourished. Health care was also very limited: The site clinic and the medical equipment were destroyed.
BASF employees taking part in first-aid classes. The company physician Dr. Helmut Zapp had begun offering employees more comprehensive first-aid training in 1949.
Launching of preventive medicine with immunization campaigns, health treatments and stays for convalescences.
Preventive medical checks in the 1970s: Employees taking part in eye examinations.
Today, the Occupational Medicine and Health Protection Department at BASF has the global responsibility for health-related issues within the company – with 150 employees, including 27 physicians in Ludwigshafen. The department and colleagues from all regions form a worldwide doctors' network.
The company's health promotion and prevention, the worldwide collaboration and current challenges, such as demographic change, are at the center of activities for BASF occupational physicians in 2016.