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Legal opinion on the interaction of workplace law and building law

(in German)

Politicians and practitioners often discuss the contradictory requirements that surround workplace law (Arbeitsstättenrecht) and building regulations law (Bauordnungsrecht). To clarify the relationships between these areas of law, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs commissioned BAuA to define and assess the intersections between the two regulatory areas. The "Legal opinion on the interaction of workplace law and building law" shows that both areas of law are complementary and that there is generally no need for harmonisation.

Constructional requirements for workplaces and workrooms are defined in the law of workplaces as well as in the building regulations law. Since these are two different fields of the law, at first sight there are some cutting points and contradictions. Mainly we find them in the technical rules for workplaces (ASR) and in the administrative building regulations. Nonetheless a tabular overview shows that the legal norms are mostly not contradictional but complementary.

Possible contradictions between the two areas of substantive law can be resolved. Art. 3a para. 4 of the German Workplace Regulation (Arbeitsstättenverordnung) sets out a clear order of priority for conflicting legal regulations: the legal regulation that offers more protection to the workers takes precedence. In implementing the decision of the European Court of Justice C-100/13 (16 October 2014), the German building regulations refer to the basic requirements for construction work and the protection of health and safety of workers in Annex I to Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011. The regulations were adopted and integrated as a general clause in Art. 3 of the Model Building Regulations (Musterbauordnung) and in the Regional Building Regulations (Landesbauordnung). The investigation shows that possible contradictions under substantive law can be resolved and that the requirements are strict where matters of hazard protection are concerned.

Technical rules for workplaces (ASR) and administrative building regulations must be interpreted in conformity with the workplace regulations law and the Law of the Union. On this basis there is a clear framework to practical and flexible solutions. It is necessary though that these categories are explained to the practitioners.

Practicable problems arise because the administrative procedures are not consistent with each other. There are no complications if the authorities for occupational health and safety are consulted in the administrative building procedures. In any case it is demanded that these authorities and the federal institute of occupational safety and health give information on the necessary criteria for the safe construction of buildings. Cooperation is necessary when planning workplaces. Consulting occupational safety and health experts, and in particular occupational safety specialists, further supports the workplace planning process.

Please download the complete report "Legal opinion on the interaction of workplace law and building law" (in German).

Bibliographic information

W. Kohte:
Rechtsgutachten zum Zusammenwirken von Arbeitsstättenrecht und Bauordnungsrecht. 
1. edition. Dortmund: Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin 2018. pages 150, PDF file, DOI: 10.21934/baua:bericht20180430