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Internal Occupational Safety and Health Systems

July 20, 2011

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their company has a functioning occupational safety and health system

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Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their company has a functioning occupational safety and health system. Integrating occupational safety and health into the respective enterprise's structures and processes on a long-term basis is a particularly effective method for achieving this. Risk assessments play a key role in this connection. Where necessary, employers must appoint a company doctor and occupational safety specialist.
The employer's obligation to conduct risk assessments constitutes the central pillar of occupational safety and health in enterprises. Risk assessments that are conducted on the basis of specified procedures are used to uncover existing hazards in the workplace so that appropriate protective measures can be taken.

It is advisable that the employer's actions be tailored to the type and size of the particular company in combination with the hazards arising there (e.g. workplace-related, equipment-related or task-related hazards). Once the various hazard factors have been identified, the next step taken by the risk assessment is to assess them to determine the possible need for safety measures.

There is a wide range of practical guides available to help employers with these tasks. Sources include the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), the occupational safety and health authorities of the individual states and the statutory occupational accident insurance funds, as well as numerous commercial providers (search term: "risk assessment").

Workers' health and safety in the workplace can be most effectively ensured when occupational safety and health is incorporated into the respective company's structures and processes on a long-term basis. Occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems are an effective instrument for improving occupational safety. Further information on this is available at the homepage of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Under the Act relating to Company Doctors, Safety Engineers and other Occupational Safety Experts (Occupational Safety Act), employers in Germany are required to appoint a company doctor and occupational safety experts based on certain criteria. These persons have the task of assisting their employer in matters concerning occupational safety and health and in accident prevention in their company. These individuals may apply their expertise on their own authority. They are not to be penalised or discriminated against on account of their performance of their duties.

The provisions contained in the Occupational Safety Act have been put into concrete terms in the accident prevention regulations of Germany'sstatutory occupational accident insurance funds.