Which occupational health and safety structures are mandatory in the company?
Every employer is obliged to organise the health and safety of employees in a professional manner. Here you can find out how to do this, what structures are needed for this and what instruments can be of assistance.
Whether in the office or on the construction site, employers have a duty to avert danger to the physical integrity and the lives of their employees. They must comply with a variety of laws, ordinances and regulations on occupational health and safety. Otherwise, they will be subject to severe penalties - especially if employees are harmed. To ensure that it does not come so far, it is also the duty of the employer to ensure the organisation of occupational health and safety in the company.
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Occupational health and safety is to be understood as meaning all measures which ensure and improve occupational safety and health protection. How improvement needs are identified, decisions made and measures finally taken rests with the occupational health and safety organisation. This includes elements of the organisational structure, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Committee (ASA). This body has to be established by all companies including more than 20 employees according to § 11 Occupational Safety Act (ASiG). However, this also includes elements of the process organisation, such as the risk assessment according to §§ 5 and 6 of the Safety and Health at Work Act (ArbSchG). Other main pillars of occupational health and safety organisations include the occupational safety specialist (Sifa), an employee to be appointed in all companies among the employees of the company or to be employed by contract as a third-party service, as well as the occupational physician. These specialists advise and support the company management in the field of occupational prevention and the humane design of working conditions. In addition to this advisory function, they usually also carry out their own tasks in the implementation of occupational safety measures. The responsibility that everything that is prescribed and feasible in the field of occupational safety is also implemented and constantly improved, remains with the employer.
The general requirements of the ASiG on the deployment of occupational physicians and occupational safety specialists are described in detail by Provision 2 of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), which has been in force since 2011. This provision specifies the requirements of the ASiG with regard to the necessary safety engineering expertise of the occupational safety specialists. According to this, the specialist knowledge is then acquired through a Sifa course in combination with one of the required basic qualifications (master craftsman, technician or engineer). For occupational physicians, it specifies the requirements with regard to the necessary additional qualification "Works Doctor" or the specialist training "Occupational medicine".
In addition, DGUV Provision 2 describes above all the task spectrum of the management and safety engineering as well as possible support models, including the "alternative support model". This is a model for smaller companies with up to 50 employees, which provides safety-related support mainly by the trained contractor. Here, too, the criteria are specified to determine the scope of care. The provision provides the basic guidance for companies of all operating sizes and sectors. It is available in an adapted version at the accident insurance provider, in which the individual company is insured.
In addition to medical and safety management, there is a number of other statutory requirements for occupational health and safety organisations. This project has been concretised by the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA), a national strategy managed by the Confederation, i.e. mainly the Federal Ministry of Labour and Socials Affairs, the Federal states and the accident insurance funds, with the participation of the employers association and the trade union. These strategic partners have issued the self-assessment tool "GDA-ORGA-Check" in 2013. The GDA-ORGA-Check translates the GDA Guideline "Organisation of Occupational Health and Safety" into a version manageable for companies. It is based on the 15 test elements of the GDA guideline, which can be used by the supervisory authorities of Federal states and accident insurance bodies in their advice and monitoring. The GDA-ORGA-Check, for example, asks questions on the structural consideration of occupational health and safety in company planning and procurement processes or on the possible involvement of third-party companies in the work processes. Included in the GDA-ORGA-Check are also requirements from the Ordinance on Occupational Health Care (ArbmedVV).
Firms that want to comply with their obligation to a functioning occupational health and safety organisation in a special way can do so by the voluntary introduction of an occupational safety management system (AMS). An AMS is particularly good at supporting health and safety in management structures and procedures. The various AMSs on the market quickly lead to the question: "Which concept fits my business?" - In answering this question, the national guideline (NLF) for occupational health and safety management systems provides assistance. This guideline is to be understood as a framework document for the development and assessment of AMS. On the basis of the NLF, the accident insurance institutions and the state health and safety authorities can offer the companies a voluntary conformity test. Such a conformity test determines the extent to which an AMS complies with general system requirements and confirms the results of this examination in writing.