German shipyards have been through some turbulent times. Most recently, the financial crisis of 2008/2009 caused problems for the industry, as did growing competition from the Far East, and some companies were forced to close down. At that time, NEPTUN WERFT already belonged to the leading MEYER Group in Germany and is still in a good position today - with an upward trend! This also applies to the integrated management system of the traditional company, which has recently been extended to include the components of environmental protection (ISO 14001) and occupational safety (ISO 45001). Come with us on a visit to Rostock, Germany.


On a tour of the well-secured premises of NEPTUN WERFT in the Rostock district of Warnemünde, one does not at first see too much of the company's long tradition. The panorama is dominated by the new production hall, which was completed in spring 2018. And it impresses with its dimensions: 181 meters long, 71 meters wide and 57 meters high enable the construction of huge floating engine room modules for MEYER WERFT's sites in Papenburg on the Ems and MEYER TURKU (Finland). But a glance at the shipyard logo on the front of the impressive building reveals just how historic the site really is. Now, ISO 14001 (environmental protection) and ISO 45001 (occupational safety) have been added to the integrated management system of the traditional company.

Over 1,500 ships since 1850

NEPTUN WERFT was founded in 1850 as a shipyard and machine factory, at that time without the name suffix "NEPTUN", which was only added in 1890 in the course of the company's transformation into a stock corporation. Like many other traditional German companies, NEPTUN WERFT has had an eventful history over the decades, which is reflected not least in the construction of the various types of ships commissioned over the eras. Since its foundation, the shipyard has built over 1,500 ships and repaired many times that number.

Complex shipbuilding technology

Milestone: Merger with Meyer Werft

A decisive milestone in NEPTUN's recent history was its integration into MEYER WERFT in 1997, which has since been operating under the name of MEYER Group. This merger enabled NEPTUN WERFT to specialize in the construction of complete river cruise ships (from 2002) and the aforementioned floating engine room modules for seagoing cruise ships, which are built in Papenburg and Turku (Finland) - both of which form the basis for today's success.

NEPTUN WERFT - Company data
Foundation1850 in Rostock, since 1997 part of the MEYER Group
ManagementBernard Meyer, Thomas Weigend, Manfred Ossevorth
Business areasShipbuilding
PortfolioRiver cruise ships, floating engine room modules for cruise ships, ferries, gas tankers
Employeesmore than 700 own employees and about 1,300 employees of partner companies
ISO certificationsISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 50001

The engine room blocks are assembled layer by layer and contain all propulsion and supply systems: ship engines, power generators, heating and air conditioning technology and tanks for liquefied natural gas (LNG). NEPTUN WERFT and MEYER WERFT are the first shipbuilding companies in the world to use the sophisticated and environmentally friendly LNG technology for such ships.

A total of 23 new cruise ships will be built at the shipyards in Papenburg, Rostock and Turku by 2024. The river cruise ships, which will sail mainly in Germany and France after completion, will be manufactured entirely in Rostock, from the hull to the carpeting in the cabins.

Adherence to delivery dates as a cost factor

All this requires not only a great deal of technical know-how, but also management focused on time, efficiency and safety. Shipping companies that commission a cruise ship want to set sail on the day of the agreed handover - with a fully booked ship that is usually designed for many thousands of passengers and must meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

The floating module from Rostock must therefore arrive at its destination on time for further installation. At the same time, it must be ensured that all work processes can be carried out absolutely safely for the workforce as well as for the environment.

NEPTUN WERFT is taking the path to this goal via management systems that are certified according to ISO standards - more precisely: via an Integrated management system (IMS).


White Paper

  • 10 reasons for an integrated management system
  • Model of a management system
  • Comparison of the requirements of five management system standards: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 50001 and ISO 27001.

The integrated management system

In order to be on the safe side when it comes to the quality of all processes, especially with regard to adherence to deadlines, the company implemented both a quality management system in accordance with ISO 9001 and an energy management system in accordance with ISO 50001 in 2015. The latter, for example, to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.

The latest coup completes the integrated management system (IMS) with ISO 14001 for environmental management (EMS) and ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety (OHSAS).

Pooling resources

The intention behind it:

"With the help of an integrated management system, achieve a good balance between the diverse requirements of topic-specific standards, bundle resources and avoid overlaps."

The prerequisite for this: a holistic view of the company and consistent process orientation in the individual activities and procedures. But also joint, simultaneous audits by auditors with multiple qualifications to identify potential for improved integration.

The audit for certification based on the requirements of ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 took place in September 2019. Thus, NEPTUN WERFT provides a good example of integrated management systems.

Many reasons for certified environmental and occupational health and safety management.

Working at a shipyard is associated with a number of (accident) hazards due to production, including:

  • Activities at great heights (danger of falling)
  • Activities in confined spaces, e.g. in empty cells for buoyancy (gases / heat)
  • Transport of heavy loads with cranes (steel girders up to 600 t),
  • Transports with forklifts (danger due to traffic in and outside the halls)
  • Increased fire hazard, e.g. due to welding work (flying sparks)
  • Work on the quay edge to the Warnow waterway, e.g. moving sections, commissioning ships
  • Air emissions on the site, e.g. from diesel forklifts

Equally important, especially in view of legal obligations, a positive external image and the fundamental responsibility of a heavy industry company, is a conscious approach to environmental issues. Keywords here are, for example, fires, hazardous substances, water protection (e.g. accidents) and energy use.

Safety and health at work: An asset in recruiting skilled workers

Dr. Moritz Achilles, who is responsible for the integrated management system of NEPTUN WERFT and, since August 2019, also for that of MEYER WERFT, lists mainly classic aspects as motives for the introduction and certification of the environmental and OHSAS management system:

  • Preventive measures to maintain employee health, also with regard to occupational health management
  • Early detection and thus minimization of accident and production risks
  • Adherence to legal requirements and obligations (compliance)
  • Raising awareness of environmental and occupational safety issues
  • Conservation of resources
  • Identification or minimization of environmental aspects that can be influenced

And there are also advantages over competitors: High-caliber professionals - a rather rare commodity today - are sure to prefer a demonstrably safe workplace to an environment that may not be consistently organized according to OHSAS requirements.


The same applies to cooperation with contractors, e.g. for the interior finishing of river cruise ships. In the end, the shipyard as a whole benefits from a lived, effective IMS (integrated management system).

Persuasion as preparation for certification

The preparation for certification followed a systematic approach in the classic order: After an extensive review of the two standards ISO 14001 and ISO 54001 and the subsequent qualification of the management system officers (Environment: Angelina Penzenstadler, OHSAS: Jan Niemann), the next step was to interpret the requirements in relation to the specific situation in the shipyard.

An affiliated company of the MEYER Group, ND Coatings GmbH, the specialist for corrosion protection, surface treatment and insulation within the group, served as a benchmark for the implementation. For this purpose, a consultant was also called in who, through his work in the industry, brought with him the necessary knowledge for the implementation of the standard requirements at NEPTUN WERFT.

Success factor internal communication

The next step was to start internal communication on the implementation of the EMS and OHSAS requirements, focusing on highlighting the associated benefits. To this end, for example, regular meetings were held at management level and countless individual discussions were held up to the level of the foremen. Their task was then to inform their employees, but not infrequently first to convince them of the sense of the project.

Old-established employees in particular had certain reservations, e.g. because of the feared (or "felt") additional work or because the advantages of an integrated management system were simply not recognized.

Another issue was the introduction of new structures and working methods and a possible additional effort in documentation, which, however, turned out to be rather low due to the harmonization with the documents of MEYER WERFT (where the entire document maintenance is located).

New awareness created

In the end, all employees could be brought on board, not least because the arguments with regard to compliance, environmental protection and occupational safety were able to bring about a new awareness of the relevant topics. The consistent involvement and convincing of employees then also contributed significantly to the generation of ideas and solution approaches with reference to the individual workplace, down to the last detail.

Prioritization of measures

After a target/actual comparison, for example, the measures to be introduced were defined, open measures were prioritized, the individual project plans were drawn up and the implementation in the PDCA cycle was carried out. This also included the introduction of an effective reporting system to identify and resolve non-conformities.


The measures focused on the typical shipyard aspects mentioned above: firefighting, hazardous materials, water protection and energy use for the environmental area, and working at heights and in confined spaces, as well as welding and burning work, large components and heavy loads for the occupational health and safety area.

Integrated management system: Top management on board

In the course of implementing the measures, the IMS team, which in a broader sense also includes the Compliance Manager, Lena Meyer, based at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, and the Energy Management Officer, Jan Schepers, who also works there, has found interesting solutions.

The management of NEPTUN WERFT, to whom Dr. Moritz Achilles reports directly as the person responsible for the IMS, acts in an exemplary manner :

"The management is not only fully behind the integrated management system, but also actively participates in achieving its goals."

This is done, among other things, with special, incidentally unannounced "GL audits" (see below) and the provision of human and financial resources.

Strict environmental protection legislation

In the course of preparations for ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certification, the shipyard has initiated a number of measures; mandatory measures designed to comply with relevant laws and regulations are taken for granted and are not specifically mentioned.

In Western industrialized countries, especially Germany, the legal situation with regard to environmental protection and especially occupational health and safety is comparatively strict. In some cases, they are even stricter than the standard requirements. The implemented requirements therefore also create a high degree of legal certainty here.

For us as management, the issue of SOC (SOS in German) - safety, order, cleanliness - is a top priority.

Manfred Ossevorth Managing Director of NEPTUN WERFT

Measures for fire and environmental protection

As an example, here is a selection of the measures for fire and environmental protection:

  • Comprehensive expansion of the shipyard's fire fighting group from 10 to 21 members
  • Supplementation of the equipment and acquisition of two fire-fighting vehicles
  • Increase in the number of mobile fire alarm devices in the halls and on the objects
  • Annual exercises with the Rostock professional fire department
  • Commissioning of an oil spill response vessel (erecting oil booms, taking up contaminated water, etc.), four exercises a year with its crew
  • Weekly exercise to comply with the "2-minute rule".

This 2-minute rule states that a maximum of 2 minutes may elapse between the triggering of the alarm and the arrival of the responsible watchman. The practice of this rule can be considered special in several respects: After all, the management does not miss the opportunity to personally check compliance with relevant safety-related requirements in practice during regular inspections.

This includes, for example, the unannounced triggering of a fire alarm. If the default or 2-minute rule is not met, management initiates an escalation procedure to bring the facility into compliance with legal and/or normative requirements. Minor nonconformities are entered into the "Task Manager" (see below), and the completion status is reported to the appropriate office.

Measures for safety and health at work

As an example, here is a selection of the measures for safety and health at work:

  • Further development of partner company management
  • Conversion of the work guidelines into general company regulations with binding rules in accordance with the principles of the DGUV (German statutory accident prevention regulations) for partner companies
  • Establishment of a central office for requesting legally required documentation from the partner companies concerned, with subsequent issuance of a work permit
  • Creation of a qualification matrix for executives of partner companies with regard to occupational safety, environmental protection and health protection at the shipyard in order to increase the awareness of the superiors and to sensitize the executing personnel

Control and follow-up of measures

Measures resulting from internal and external audits of the integrated management system, other inspections and other forms of monitoring are entered and tracked in an online task manager. In the process, each measure is assigned to a responsible person who is responsible for processing or implementing it. Advantages of this approach:

  • Transparency - all user adjustments are documented
  • Responsibility is clarified, actions can be tracked
  • Significant time saving of e-mail communication in Outlook
  • The current status can be viewed at any time
  • Faster and simpler creation of the reporting system through one-time creation of filter systems
  • Legal security is ensured by corresponding mandatory fields

Certification audit by DQS confirms conformity


Finally, from September 12 to 20, 2019, the certification audit of DQS took place at NEPTUN WERFT. In the process, the concrete situation in all three shifts and on the weekend was mapped over eight days. The responsible persons of NEPTUN WERFT together with the DQS auditor and author of this article were highly satisfied with the course of the audit.

With regard to the integrated management system, NEPTUN WERFT has undergone an enormous development in the last two years. The ISO certificates that have now been issued confirm that the success factors of the management systems are being used in a targeted and comprehensive manner.

Manfred Ossevorth Managing Director of NEPTUN WERFT

Manfred Ossevorth, Managing Director of NEPTUN WERFT, puts it this way with regard to his crew:

"The employees of NEPTUN WERFT are our most valuable asset; it is through them that our products attain their premium quality. It is therefore a personal concern of ours to ensure the highest possible safety standards for our employees in terms of workplace and process design by introducing preventive measures and continuous improvement.

In this way, we ensure not only falling occupational accident rates and constant product quality, but also the attractiveness of the company in its external image for specialists and managers."

Neptun Werft - an example of an integrated management system

NEPTUN WERFT is looking ahead: those responsible want to use their experience as a basis for further certifications as a benchmark for their partner companies. NEPTUN Logistik GmbH will be the first to do so. And the big MEYER WERFT will also be able to benefit from the IMS know-how of its "little sister" - and the Rostock-based company may well be a little proud of this.

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September 30, 2021: ISO 45001 has replaced BS OHSAS

On September 30, 2021, ISO 45001 replaced the British standard that has been relevant to occupational health and safety management for more than 20 years.

Companies that have a certified quality and/or environmental management system are usually familiar with the procedure and the transition periods set by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). As with the revision of the two ISO standards, a three-year transition period has been set for the changeover. It was initially scheduled to end on March 11, 2021, but was extended by six months by the IAF due to the Covid 19 crisis. Now all BS OHSAS 18001 certificates have lost their validity. The old standard has been superseded.

In principle, DQS had still carried out certification according to the old standard last year - but only until September 30, 2020. After this date, the financial cost of certification was no longer justifiable.

Stefan Hajek

Stefan Hajek is a DQS Lead Auditor for the ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 50001:2018 standards, a consultant for management systems, risk and crisis management, interim management, corporate restructuring, and a specialist in the mechanical engineering, shipbuilding and metal production and processing sectors, among others .


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