The Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Initiative (GDA) is a concerted, long-term effort that Germany's federal government, state governments and occupational accident insurance funds have undertaken to improve occupational safety and health in the workplace. Its aim is to create incentives that will encourage enterprises to pursue sustainable, long-term prevention policies. There is still room for improvement in this area, most notably in small and medium-sized enterprises.
The GDA initiative replaces preceding strategies and their various approaches with the systematic and orderly implementation of the occupational safety and health objectives that the participants in the GDA initiative have jointly agreed on. The focus during the period 2008 through 2012 is on reducing the number and severity of occupational accidents, lessening strains on workers' musculoskeletal systems, and reducing the number and severity of skin disorders and diseases. Activities to implement these occupational safety and health objectives also give special consideration to the growing effects of psychological stress.
The GDA initiative thus bundles preventive measures, sets synergies in motion and brings about a more efficient use of resources all along the 'hot spots' in occupational safety and health. Basing administrative action on a joint consultation and monitoring initiative is also new. As a result, the states and the occupational accident insurance funds' supervision of occupational safety and health will be more tightly coordinated and divided between these bodies, based on a 'division of labour'. Further, the relationship between occupational safety and health legislation and the occupational accident insurance funds' independent regulations will be restructured and, in the process, be made simpler and more transparent.
The legal framework for the GDA initiative is set forth in the Occupational Safety Act and in the Seventh Book of the German Social Code (SGB VII). All in all, the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Initiative makes an important contribution to ensuring that Germany has a modern, 'dual' occupational safety and health system that satisfies OSH requirements.