Benefit from preventive occupational medical care!
Employees have a right to offers of preventive occupational medical care if they are exposed to higher physical workload. Here, we provide information on the rules, methods and exact procedure.
Musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs) are among the most important groups of diseases and have a significant share of cases of work absence. While MSDs occur frequently and have various causes, it is undisputed that typical occupational workload, motor requirements and physical effects play a major role in the development MSDs. Work-related factors include repetitive manual work processes, working in forced postures and/or with increased exertion, lifting and carrying heavy loads, or working exposed to mechanical vibrations.
Successful prevention of these diseases is becoming more important in terms of the ageing workforce, and must start by reducing work-related causes. One important instrument for this is statutory preventive occupational medical care concerning physical workload, which is the subject here.
In accordance with the Ordinance on Occupational Healthcare ("Verordnung zur arbeitsmedizinischen Vorsorge", ArbMedVV), employees are entitled to medical advice and examinations. An offer of preventive occupational medical care is mandatory for activities with considerably increased physical workload that are associated with risks to health for the musculoskeletal system through:
Employers must inform employees about the physical workload in the workplace and actively offer preventive occupational medical care at regular intervals. Employees may accept this offer of preventive medical care but are not obliged to do so.
No, employers only have to offer preventive occupational medical care if the carried out work is associated with "considerably increased" physical workload. The Occupational Medicine Rules ("Arbeitsmedizinische Regeln", AMR) 13.2 defines this term: considerably increased physical workload is load that occur regularly or permanently at the workplace that can lead to overstrain resulting in discomfort, functional disorder or damage, in particular to the musculoskeletal system. AMR 13.2 designates acceptable scores for each of workload types:
In this case, employees may be given occupational medical advice at their own request. However, the employer does not have to inform employees actively about this "prevention on request" (s. 11 ArbSchG and s. 5a ArbMedVV).
Preventive occupational medical care is carried out by an occupational health practitioner appointed by the company.
As part of preventive care, employees are primarily given advice. The aim of preventive care is to detect and prevent work-related diseases at an early stage, including occupational diseases that can occur through workload to the musculoskeletal system. Preventive care is also aimed at diseases that can develop through non-occupational factors, conditions and influences, and can be boosted by inappropriate occupational workload and work overload, or occur earlier and more frequently.´
The knowledge that the company doctor gains from the consultations (and where applicable from examinations as well) with the employees, generally also serves the risk assessment as well as other measures for safety in the workplace and the further development of health protection in the workplace. The duty of medical confidentiality is complied with in all cases. Doctors may only pass findings and information from check-ups to the employer with the consent of the employee.
The offer of preventive care is not an appraisal of aptitude for the job or a fitness assessment and must not be associated with these!
Yes, the medical standard for carrying out a preventive occupational medical care examination is principle G 46 of the German regulations for occupational insurance schemes: Strains on the musculoskeletal system ("Berufsgenossenschaftlicher Grundsatz G 46: Belastungen des Muskel- und Skelettsystems"). This principle comprises a detailed anamnesis, i.e. a record of the medical history and the state of the employees in an interview, an examination of the musculoskeletal system and a consultation.
You can find principle G 46 of the German regulations for occupational insurance schemes and further reading below under the heading "Publications and documents".
Occupational Medicine Rule AMR 2.1 defines the time limits for the offer of preventive occupational medical care examinations.
The company doctor can recommend shorter periods for the further preventive examinations in dependence on the employee's health, the situation in the workplace or other aspects.
The company doctor can advise employees on the following aspects taking account of individual workload at the workplace and the findings on the individual health situation:
In accordance with the ArbMedVV, the company doctor has to evaluate the findings of preventive occupational medical care examinations in a summarised (aggregated) form and advise the employer on this basis. Examples of aggregated findings are:
Advice for the employer by the company doctor on the basis of offers of preventive medical examinations can refer to the following aspects: