Who performs the task of supervision?
The implementation of the Safety and Health at Work Act in the company is supervised by the supervisors of the competent official regulating authorities and by the accident insurers.
Official regulating authorities
The duty to supervise of the official regulating authorities is established in § 21, section 1 Safety and Health at Work Act. Accordingly, the supervision of occupational health and safety is incumbent upon the government. Usually, the supreme state authorities (ministries) assign this to subsidiary authorities (Trade Supervisory Board, Occupational Health and Safety Office, State Office for Occupational Safety and Health, etc.). These inspect the companies regarding the establishment of occupational safety and health within the organisation of the company and the corporate strategy.
The inspection performed by supervisors in companies and at workstations outside of companies is conducted within the framework of their subject-matter and territorial competence based on laws, ordinances, or administrative regulations.
If statutory minimum requirements are not met, the official regulating authorities are required to enforce these with sovereign power. In order to protect the essential constitutional rights to integrity and health at the workstation of the employees, they may issue immediately enforceable ordinances (compulsory notifications, sanctions) under exigent circumstances in order to avert work-related hazards for life or health. As a result, the work equipment or systems concerned may be shut down.
The accident insurers are also responsible for occupational health and safety in their member companies due to their autonomous ordinance law. The DGUV Regulation 1 refers to § 5 Safety and Health at Work Act in § 3. Accordingly, the accident insurers may also supervise the implementation of the risk assessment in the companies. Pursuant to § 3, section 4 of DGUV Regulation 1, the entrepreneur must make available to the occupational insurance association any and all information on the occupational health and safety measures taken in the company, if requested.
Collaboration of official regulating authorities and accident insurers
The competent state authorities and the accident insurers collaborate closely regarding the supervision and promote the exchange of experience. They inform each other on implemented on-site company visits and the fundamental results thereof.
Since October 2008, the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (Gemeinsame Deutsche Arbeitsschutzstrategie – GDA) is statutory in the Safety and Health at Work Act and in the Social Code VII (SGB VII). One main task of the GDA is to improve the collaboration of the official health and safety authorities and the accident insurers, amongst others regarding a coordinated, specialised supervision and consultation activity.