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What happens to the work equipment?

Pursuant to § 5 Safety and Health at Work Act in combination with § 3 Operational Safety Ordinance (BetrSichV), you as the employer bear the responsibility for the work equipment used within your company being provided and used in a safe manner.

Risk assessment

Provisioning and use of work equipment

In order to make sure that work equipment is provided and used in a safe manner, you must, based on a risk assessment covering any and all work equipment, define and implement the measures necessary in this regard, supervise the efficiency of the implemented measures, and document the overall process. In so doing, systems requiring monitoring being used as work equipment by the employees when performing the work must be taken into consideration as well.
Those hazards entailed by the provision and use of the work equipment itself, as well as hazards resulting from interactions with other work equipment, with substances, or with the work environment are the subject of the determination and evaluation.

Work equipment-related hazards include, for example,

  • mechanical hazards,
  • hazards due to falling persons,
  • loads or materials, electrical hazards,
  • hazards caused by steam and pressure,
  • fire and explosion hazards,
  • thermal hazards and hazards caused by physical impacts, e.g. noise, vibrations.

Please note: More detailed information on hazard factors can be found in the section expert knowledge.

The technical rule TRBS 1111 “Risk assessment, safety-related evaluation” inncludes specified requirements regarding the performance of the work equipment-related risk assessment. It describes the approach for determining and evaluating hazards and for deriving the necessary measures for

  • the provision of work equipment,
  • the use of work equipment, and
  • the operation of systems requiring monitoring.

If measures have to be taken, the minimum requirements pursuant to BetrSichV Annex 2 must be taken into consideration. The technical rules on the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (2000 series) may provide specific help for determining and evaluating regarding the hazard identified in each case. Referring to the hazard, they exemplarily mention measures as to how the hazard can be addressed. Important guidelines further include rules, information, and basic principles of the occupational insurance association.

Maintenance

The technical rule TRBS 1112 “Maintenance” describes the approach when performing a risk assessment regarding maintenance work. It mentions exemplary measures that must be taken into consideration when performing the maintenance work as a result of the risk assessment.

TRBS 1112 must be applied to

  • planning and executing maintenance work,
  • troubleshooting,
  • testing upon maintenance work.

When applying the measures mentioned exemplarily in the TRBS 1112, the employer may claim the assumption of complying with the regulations of the Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health. If the employer selects a different solution, he/she must prove the equivalent compliance of the ordinance in writing.

For maintenance work including explosion hazards, TRBS 1112 Part 1 must be applied additionally.

Inspection

Work equipment and systems requiring monitoring may only be used in a safe manner if they are inspected at regular intervals. For example, this also includes inspecting the safeguards at the work equipment for functionality. Each year, manipulated safeguards on machines are the reason for approximately ten thousand partially severe and fatal accidents involving machines in Germany. Therefore, manipulations and their causes must always be determined systematically and eliminated immediately.

Please note: At www.stopp-manipulation.org, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) compiled tips against manipulation in cooperation with national and international partners. Here, you will not only find a checklist for purchasing machines, but also information on how manipulation causes can be determined and eliminated systematically.

The specific approach for determining the inspection type, the extent of the inspection, and the inspection deadline, as well as selecting the person the inspection is to be assigned to are described in the technical rule TRBS 1201 "Inspection of work equipment and systems requiring monitoring" and its parts.


Work equipment

Work equipment must be inspected by competent persons

  • after any installation if its safety depends thereon,
  • recurrently at certain intervals if it may be damaged and the damage results in hazardous situations,
  • in the event of extraordinary events with potential effects on the safety of the work equipment, e.g. acts of God, accidents, and
  • if the safety may be impaired after repair work.

Please note: Specified requirements regarding the selection of competent persons are included in the technical rule TRBS 1203.

Systems requiring monitoring

As a matter of principle, systems requiring monitoring are inspected by certified monitoring bodies:

  • prior to commissioning
  • after each essential change
  • in the event of damage
  • if safety-related faults are suspected
  • recurrently at certain intervals.

Certain systems requiring monitoring may be inspected by competent persons pursuant to § 14 BetrSichV:

  • Devices, protection systems in ATEX areas (section 3, no. 1)
  • certain pressure equipment (section 3, no. 2)
  • certain simple pressure vessels (section 3, no. 3)
  • portable fire extinguishers and bottles for breathing protection (section 4).

The operator must determine inspection periods for systems requiring monitoring with the help of a separate safety-related evaluation, unless this was performed by the employer within the framework of the risk assessment. This may particularly be the case if the operator of the system is not the employer, for example for elevator systems.

In order to meet the inspection requirements, you should make sure that an overview of the type, extent, and periods of inspections of work equipment and systems requiring monitoring is documented in your company.

Instruction

The employer must inform and instruct the employees regarding the work equipment being used. Among others, this is established

  • in § 81 of the Works Constitution Act,
  • in § 14 and § 12 of the Safety and Health at Work Act as well as
  • in § 9 of the Operational Safety Ordinance.

For this, work documents such as user manuals and work instructions are helpful. These are intended to support the employees while performing their tasks. In order to fulfil this role, these documents should be designed according to ergonomic principles.

In “Practice instruction and communication”, an offer of the Verwaltungs-BG, executive personnel of small-scale companies can find tips and help regarding conversation techniques and information on instructing in the field of occupational health and safety.