The BAuA incorporates scientific knowledge into political practice
Policy advice is one of the core tasks of the BAuA. As a departmental research institution under the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), the BAuA acts as a constant mediator between the worlds of science and political practice.
The BAuA has set itself the aims of supporting government action with a high level of scientific expertise and of providing a sound basis for political decisions through its scientific advisory services. An integral part of this task is the ability to ensure that expertise from academia and research is incorporated into political decision-making. The Federal Institute's policy advice picks up current social, technological and economic issues and identifies important challenges for the state and society of the future, effectively acting as their eyes and ears.
Oriented towards the guidelines of modern departmental research
To ensure that Germany's departmental research is fit for the future and to ensure adherence to proper scientific practice, the federal government has presented "Ten guidelines for modern departmental research" (Zehn Leitlinien einer modernen Ressortforschung) in accordance with the recommendations of the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). Policy advice work at the BAuA follows these guidelines. With its departmental research, the BAuA ensures that:
- its technical expertise can be applied to political questions, to legislative, regulatory and harmonisation projects, and to official decision-making processes, e.g. those of BMAS;
- the institution's scientific independence is safeguarded despite the conflicting priorities of the ministry, users and stakeholders in society;
- the existing rules, procedures and quality principles aimed at ensuring effective policy advice, such as the four-eye principle and transparency in decision-making, are adhered to.
One of the BAuA's primary tasks in policy advice is to provide technical expertise and comprehensive advisory services in response to queries from the federal government, the German parliament, social partners, or European and international organisations on all matters relating to safety and health at work. Through direct consultation, e.g. in response to queries from members or groups of the German parliament or from other constitutional bodies, the BAuA plays an active role in shaping specialist discourse in its capacity as a neutral and expert federal research institution.
Further policy consultation tasks
Experts share their knowledge
The BAuA provides specialist articles and expert knowledge for use by semi-political associations, science, initiatives and foundations through a variety of channels, for example at conferences, in expert reports or in opinions relating to occupational science. Within the bounds of scientific policy advice, the BAuA helps to shape public opinion in relation to safety and health at work. The aim is to increasingly embed occupational safety and health into wider social and socio-economic contexts and to further interlink it with other contexts.
The BAuA shapes the content of committees
The key tasks of providing specialist policy advice include, in particular, shaping the content of key policy advice committees that fall under its management, such as:
- the Occupational Medicine Committee (AfAMed),
- the Committee on Workplaces (ASTA),
- the Committee on Occupational Safety (ABS),
- the Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS),
- the Committee on Hazardous Substances (AGS),
- the Committee on Technical Work Equipment and Consumer Products (AtAV),
- EU committees and working groups relating to the development and implementation of EU regulations and directives,
- advisory groups and expert meetings of BMAS in relation to national regulations,
- advisory groups and expert meetings of other federal ministries,
- committees of the federal government as set out by laws, statutory instruments and ministerial decrees.
The committees' primary aims are to transfer the BAuA's expert knowledge into practice, to standardise working methods in the committees, and to implement quality assurance measures as set out in the technical rules.
Legislation and standards
Knowledge from the BAuA is incorporated into legislation
With its technical expertise, the BAuA provides scientific policy advice to support the development of nationwide occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation and regulations and of EU directives relating to OSH. Furthermore, the BAuA influences not only the design of national standardisation processes but also the regulations set out in guidelines under harmonised European standards.
In addition, the BAuA is tasked with identifying future fields of activity in the area of OSH and, in this regard, with providing its expert knowledge proactively to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).
Not all advice is equal
All of the target groups addressed by the BAuA's scientific policy advice have different concerns. The BAuA therefore aims to ensure that its recommendations are relevant to current problems and that its advice addresses the individual needs of its recipients. Furthermore, it is essential to find the right time for providing advice and to develop an understanding of the internal logic and constraints of the political process. Therefore, in addition to traditional scientific products such as specialist articles, the BAuA increasingly relies on consulting products that are appropriate to a specialist audience from science and industry, such as factsheets and brief summaries.
The BAuA is also a member of the Working Group of the German Federal Departmental Research Establishments. Founded in 2006 by 30 departmental research institutions, this Working Group aims to reinforce the mutual exchange of experience and the joint development of standards, as well as to create and improve instruments for quality assurance.