Act on Occupational Physicians, Safety Engineers and Other Occupational Safety Specialist

    Germany

    Act on Occupational Physicians, Safety Engineers and Other Occupational Safety Specialist

    The Act on Occupational Physicians, Safety Engineers and Other Occupational Safety Specialists of 12 December 1973 (the Act) regulates safety in the workplace, establishes and defines the role of an occupational physician, and establishes occupational safety and health committees.  

    Last Updated: July 30, 2019


  • Requirements

    The Act requires employers to appoint occupational physicians and occupational safety specialists who will support them in occupational safety and health as well as accident prevention matters to ensure a site, industry, and company- specific safety regime. In particular, the occupational physician must be licensed to practice medicine, and also have the expertise in occupational medicine required to fulfil the duties assigned to them. 

    According to Part Two of the Act, occupational physicians provide guidance to their employer with regards to:  

    • the planning, construction and maintenance of operating facilities and of social and sanitary facilities;
    • the procurement of technical work equipment and the introduction of processes and agents at work;
    • the selection and testing of body protection equipment;
    • issues associated with the physiological and psychological aspects of work and other ergonomic and industrial hygiene matters, in particular, the work rhythm, the provisions concerning working hours and breaks, the design of the workplace, the workflow and the work environment; 
    • the organization of first aid within the establishment;
    • issues concerning a job change and the integration and re-integration of persons with disabilities into the work process; and
    • the assessment of the working conditions 

    The occupational physician must also inspect operating facilities and work equipment, in particular before they are put into service, and check the safety of working processes. Furthermore, occupational physicians must inspect workplaces at regular intervals and notify the employer or another person responsible for occupational safety and health and for accident prevention of any defects they may have determined, propose measures for the correction of such defects, and work towards their implementation, as well as verifying that appropriate body protection equipment is being used. 

    In addition, occupational physicians must examine the causes of accidents, record and evaluate the results of these examinations, and propose measures prevent future accidents to the employer, as well as instructing employees about the accident and health hazards they are exposed to at work as well as the measures to avoid such hazards. Finally, occupational physicians must cooperate in the scheduling and training of first aid personnel and the medical auxiliary personnel. 

    Occupational safety specialists 

    Part Three of the Act addresses occupational safety specialists. There are two kinds of occupational safety specialist: a safety engineer and a safety technician or a master craftsman, both of whom must be adequately and appropriately qualified.  

    Occupational safety specialists provide guidance to their employer and those responsible for occupational safety and health and for accident prevention on: 

    • the planning, construction and maintenance of operating facilities and of social and sanitary facilities;
    • the procurement of technical work equipment and the introduction of processes and agents at work;
    • the selection and testing of body protection equipment;
    • the design of workplaces, the workflow, the work environment and other ergonomic issues; and 
    • the assessment of the working conditions 

    In addition, according to Section 11 of the Act, in establishments with more than 20 workers, the employer shall set up an occupational safety and health committee which will discuss matters of occupational safety and health and accident prevention and will meet at least once every three months. The safety and health committee will be comprised of the employer or an appointed representative, two members of the works council appointed by the works council, occupational physicians, occupational safety specialists, and safety officers pursuant to section 22 of the Seventh Book of the Social Code. 

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