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Are there criteria for selecting measures?

When selecting occupational safety and health measures, orient on the so-called S-T-O-P principle. The abbreviation STOP stands for

“S” substitution,
“T” technical measures,
“O” organisational measures, and
“P” person- and behaviour-related safety measures.

The sequence of this list also corresponds to the order of measures to be performed.

The best measure always is to avoid or completely eliminate the hazard. For example, substances hazardous to health should be substituted by more harmless substances.

If this is not possible, the hazard must be kept as low as possible. Typically, technical solutions (for example closed-loop systems, safer methods, etc.) are most effective in the field of occupational safety and health.

They take priority over organisational regulations and person- and behaviour-related safety measures. This includes occupational healthcare, regular instructions of the employees, as well as the use of suitable protective equipment, for example. As a matter of principle, constantly wearing personal protective equipment should only be a short-term temporary solution.

Always take the measures according to the following sequence:

  • design procedures in such a way that there is no hazard, eliminate hazard sources (“S”)
  • eliminate or reduce hazards by using safeguards, preferably with a compulsory effect (“T”)
  • minimise the health risk by lowering intensity and duration of the exposure, respectively, by means of technical or work-organisational measures (“O”)
  • wear the personal protective equipment or apply the code of conduct (“P”)

Please note: The legislator formulates general principles in the § 4 Safety and Health at Work Act you should take into consideration when selecting the measures:

  1. the work must be designed in such a way that any hazard for life and health is avoided as far as possible and the remaining hazard is kept as low as possible
  2. hazards must be tackled at the source
  3. the measures must take into consideration the state of the art, the occupational healthcare, and hygiene, as well as any other established occupational research
  4. measures must be planned with the goal of connecting technology, organisation of work, other working conditions, social relationships, and the influence of the environment on the workstation in a proper manner
  5. individual protective measures are subordinate to other measures
  6. specific hazards for groups of employees requiring particular protection must be taken into consideration
  7. the employees must be instructed appropriately
  8. direct or indirect gender-specifically effective regulations are only admissible if this is absolutely necessary due to biological reasons