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Training and requirements for appointment as an occupational safety specialist

Training concept and requirements concerning an appointment to the position of occupational safety specialist

In Germany, the training to qualify as an occupational safety specialist (Sicherheitsfachkraft, Sifa) is undertaken as part of an engineering degree programme or by taking what is known as a "Sifa course". It is possible to acquire "expertise in safety technology" by taking one of these degree programmes or training courses.

However, this is not usually sufficient for appointment as an occupational safety specialist because, according to the Occupational Safety Act (Arbeitssicherheitsgesetz, ASiG), a basic qualification as a master craftsperson, technician, or engineer is also essential for anyone wishing to take up a post of this kind. According to German Social Accident Insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, DGUV) Regulation 2, only graduates of specialised degree courses in safety engineering who are entitled to use the title "safety engineer" can be appointed as occupational safety specialists without any additional qualifications, provided they have gained one year of professional experience.

The Sifa training concept

In addition to the practice-oriented teaching of up-to-date occupational safety content, Sifa courses are characterised above all by their modular organisation. They are currently still conducted in accordance with a concept adopted in 2012. This concept is set out in DGUV Information 251-001, The Occupational Safety Specialist - Modern Occupational Safety and Health: Understanding of Prevention, Job Profile, Training. The current framework for Sifa training, as well as its content and structure are summarised in DGUV Report 2/2012. Special arrangements that apply for the higher education sector are outlined in The Training of Occupational Safety Specialists at Universities, Higher Education Institutions, and Universities of Applied Sciences, which was published in 2006.

The remote learning course run until now by the German accident insurance funds of the public sector has been combined with the face-to-face course provided by the employers' liability insurance associations (BGs) in a joint Sifa course with face-to-face and remote learning elements that complies with the mentioned DGUV training concept. The Sifa course was digitalised when these changes were made and recently became available via an interactive learning platform called the Sifa Learning World (Sifa-Lernwelt). The Sifa training further developed in this way has been gradually introduced by the social accident insurance providers since 2019 in a process due to be completed by the end of 2021. It will also be rolled out by independent training providers and higher education institutions in the subsequent years. An overview of the new structure and course plan for the updated Sifa training can be found at "Links" (in German).

Sifa course providers exempt from and subject to state recognition

Since they are delivered by state institutions or public bodies, Sifa courses that are integrated into engineering degree programmes or offered by higher education institutions and the employers' liability insurance associations do not require special recognition from the state. Different rules apply to independent training providers who also run Sifa courses. The supreme occupational safety and health authorities of the federal states are generally responsible for the recognition of such courses. A list of recognised Sifa courses in Germany can be found under "Further Information".

Additional requirements for appointment following the successful completion of a Sifa course

Every training provider will be able to supply information about the scheduling, costs, course plan, and content of its Sifa training. As a rule, candidates who do not hold one of the basic qualifications required by the second sentence of Section 7(1) ASiG in conjunction with Section 4(2) DGUV Regulation 2 (engineer, master craftsperson, or technician) when they plan to take up a post as an occupational safety specialist in an organisation are to be informed by the training provider of restrictions on their future work in this professional role. These restrictions may mean their remit is limited - to a single department within their company, for example - or it is only possible for them to be appointed on a fixed-term contract.

An employer is merely permitted to disregard the basic qualifications discussed above that are fundamental requirements for appointment as an occupational safety specialist if they have obtained a certificate of exemption from the competent occupational safety and health authority. Furthermore, exemptions under Section 7(2) ASiG can be granted solely for the appointment of individuals who hold higher education degrees. Applications for certificates of exemption are to be submitted by the employer on a case-by-case basis.

For further information please refer to our German Website.

Further Information

Courses in expertise in occupational safety

Courses for obtaining expertise in occupational safety (in German, Sicherheitstechnische Fachkunde or “Sifa” for short) which are recognised in Germany according to § 7 of the Occupational Safety Act (ASiG) in connection with German Statutory Accident Insurance Association (DGUV) regulation 2

Find out more : Courses in expertise in occupational safety …

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