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Why do I have to compile a documentation?

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is necessary for every employer who employs staff to compile a detailed documentation of the risk assessment which is implemented in the company. This documentation obligation is stipulated according to the German Safety and Health at Work Act § 6 (1).

The employer is obliged to compile documentation which details

  • the results of the risk assessment,
  • the occupational safety measures to be implemented on the basis thereof, and
  • the results of their verification

accordingly. In the event of a similar risk situation, it is considered sufficient for the docu-ments to contain summarised information.

Apart from the legal guidelines, there are a variety of other reasons which also speak in favour of documenting the risk assessment:

  • the documentation makes it easier for you to keep a clear record of the measures, the responsible individuals and the deadlines for the implementation of the occupational health and safety measures.
  • It also helps notify the employees of the existing risks and to provide them with the appropriate instructions for compliance with the health and safety regulations.
  • It forms the basis for the work of the occupational safety specialist, the medical of-ficer, the safety officer and the occupational health and safety committee.
  • It forms the basis for the right to information of the works council or staff council.
  • It is considered proof of the fulfilment of your obligations towards the state authorities and your employer's liability insurance association.
  • It provides you with legal protection. Should an accident occur, with your documentation, you can prove that you implemented the risk assessment and that you have organised your company in compliance with the occupational safety and health regulations.

If you implement and document the seven steps for risk assessment as described, you have fulfilled the requirements of the Safety and Health at Work Act.

What does the documentation have to include?

The documents which you compile have to be brief and precise, and they must document the following contents in an understandable way:

  1. the point in time and the individuals who implemented or participated in the risk assessment,
  2. the results of your risk assessment:

    • what risks were determined?
  3. the extent of the risks:

    • is the extent assessed as low, significant or high?
    • is there a need for action and/or how urgent is the elimination of the risks - immediate, or over the short, medium or long term?
  4. the determined occupational health and safety measures:

    • what measures are to be implemented?
    • who is responsible for the implementation?
    • by when do the measures have to be realised?
    • how and when were the employees instructed?
  5. the results of the verification of the implementation and effectiveness of the measures:

    • are the implemented measures effective?
    • is it necessary for additional measures to be arranged?

In the case of work with hazardous substances, according to TRGS 400, the results of the verification of the possibilities for the substitution of hazardous substances have to be documented. The verification of substitution is one of the basic obligations according to § 7 of the Hazardous Substances Ordinance . If, taking the principle of proportionality into account, a substitution cannot be implemented, it is necessary to document the basic considerations during the course of the verification. In this respect, TRGS 600 states the criteria according to which it is necessary to proceed.

It is a good idea to document the entire concept of the risk assessment. In this respect, for example, the documentation can be supplemented with inspection reports, data entry forms, measurement reports, instruction materials or the legal references on which the documentation is based.

How should the documentation be completed?

The documentation should be clearly understandable and transparent. The Safety and Health at Work Act does not stipulate any formal guidelines regarding the method of documentation, however.

The documentation generally consists of a written document. It can also be completed in electronic form, however. If you opt for the electronic form of documentation, you must ensure that the documents are available at all times and that they are protected against unauthorised amendment.

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