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Occupational safety and health objectives 2019 - 2024

The GDA has set the following strategic objective for the 3rd period: ensuring occupational health and safety: employing risk assessments to aid prevention. A mutual and systematic approach to

  • appropriate workplace designs to counter musculoskeletal strain
  • appropriate workplace designs to counter mental stress
  • the safe handling of hazardous, carcinogenic substances.

The work programmes defined for the 3rd GDA period strive to achieve these objectives and to gradually implement corresponding actions.

Target groups

The programmes address employers and managers, multipliers within companies, occupational health and safety experts, company doctors, company interest group representatives as well as employees, insured persons and safety officers. The 3rd GDA period will focus on small and medium-sized companies in particular and will provide beneficial programmes for these target groups.

The programme also addresses inspectors with occupational health and safety authorities, with the Federal States (Länder) as well as with accident insurance institutions (trade associations, Unfallkasse insurance funds and Social Security for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture) as well as responsible parties within the institutions involved in the GDA, researchers in the field of work science and other disciplines as well as professional associations, guilds, chambers and professional organisations for occupational health and safety experts in particular, including medical services.

The Site Inspection work group

The Occupational Safety and Health Act [Arbeitsschutzgesetz, ArbSchG] defines the supervisory actions agreed between the Federal States (Länder) and accident insurance institutions. Surveys and questionnaires conducted in companies during the 2nd GDA period have furthermore shown that small and medium-sized companies in particular have not yet established appropriate risk assessments for their corporate activities.

Objectives

The agreed supervisory practice aims to both improve the organisation of occupational health and safety and to promote the performance of appropriate risk assessments within companies.

Actions

Inspectors with the institutions involved in the GDA perform around 20,000 inspections per year, primarily at small and medium-sized companies (less than 250 employees). If shortcomings are detected, appropriate administrative actions are initiated to remedy said shortcomings.

Inspectors receive training on the basic data form and use of the instruction manual developed by the Site Inspection work group.

The Musculoskeletal Strain (MSS) programme

Work-related musculoskeletal strain continues to be a frequent occurrence, causing considerable economic damage.

Objectives

The programme aims to identify risks and strains in advance and thus reduce diseases of and strain to the musculoskeletal system in companies, pursuing an integrative approach that comprises the qualification of corporate stakeholders and inspectors and a combination of behavioural and structural prevention actions.

Actions

The programme will provide task-related information on typical and/or particularly relevant musculoskeletal strain, including tips on how to reduce existing strain along with other actions and principles, such as the online aid entitled Conscious Movement – At Work and At Home [Bewusst bewegen – auch im Job; German only]. The programme further aims to achieve substantial improvements by using best-practice examples and by promoting qualification offers on the handling and/or use of tools with which to assess the risk of musculoskeletal strain.
One particular aim is to encourage executives to establish appropriate structural prevention and to also influence the behaviour of employees within the working world to such an extent that they accept structural prevention actions and embed these into corporate culture. The work programme will also enhance and continue existing products developed by the MSD work programme during the 2nd GDA period in a targeted manner. These products include the Ensuring A Healthy Workplace seminar module [Gelebte Gesundheit am Arbeitsplatz, German only], principles and examples of Best Practice and the Conscious Movement – At Work and At Home online aid.
Existing prevention offers and products on structural and behavioural prevention of MSD provided by the institutions involved in GDA and its partners will be provided in a target-group specific manner, for example via online platforms.

Further actions have been planned, including the development of a form to collect specific data and guidelines for training inspectors.

The Psyche work programme

With the PSYCHE work programme, the institutions involved in the GDA pursue the strategic objective of systematically increasing the implementation of risk assessments with regard to mental stress in the 3rd period. Under the heading A mutual and systematic approach to appropriate workplace designs to counter mental stress – recognising factors, utilizing potential, this work programme focuses on this still highly relevant occupational health and safety issue.

Objectives

With the aid of consulting and recommendations, and supervised by the inspectors, this programme aims to encourage companies to meet their legal obligation to compile risk assessments. Risks that arise due to mental stress at work are to be systematically removed or reduced, thus shaping work in a more humane manner. Risk assessments are to help recognise said strains and initiate suitable actions.

The programme also aims to strengthen awareness of mental stress among inspectors by providing trainings and sharing experiences.

Actions

The programme will develop and provide materials, measures and instruments
and aims to further the development of quality standards for the instruments offered to assess the risk of mental stress. The programme further aims to develop and provide specific instruments for small and medium-sized companies along agreed quality principles.

Furthermore, it will develop and distribute recommendations on how to ensure appropriate workplace designs to counter mental stress, such as requirements for design processes, actions and practical examples. Expert articles are to be published and the programme will provide an online-based information platform for appropriate workplace designs to counter mental stress.

At the same time, the programme will also provide a range of actions to qualify corporate stakeholders in this field; these include the advancement and distribution of training and development guidelines, sample curricula and workshop offers, for example for safety officers, company doctors, members of works councils and managers.

The Safe Handling of Hazardous, Carcinogenic Substances work programme

Occupational cancer is the leading work-related cause of death in Germany. When it comes to protection against occupational cancer, prevention is therefore a top priority.

Objectives

The programme aims to minimize risks caused by hazardous, carcinogenic substances at the workplace and to prevent them if possible.

Actions

As part of the development process of the Safe Handling of Hazardous, Carcinogenic Substances work programme, companies in which employees perform tasks that involve hazardous, carcinogenic substances or in which employees are exposed to such substances are to be inspected by the supervisory agencies of the Federal States (Länder) and the accident insurance institutions.

To implement the Safe Handling of Hazardous, Carcinogenic Substances work programme, the GDA will provide inspectors employed by the Länder and accident insurance institutions with instruction manuals to guarantee that supervisory practice is aligned.

A check list for hazardous substances will be provided to help enable companies conduct self-assessments, while suitable best-practice examples will be collected and presented via an online module. The work programme will be presented at a kick-off event and start-up packages will be provided to support and inform companies; vocational training curricula will furthermore be initiated for relevant occupations.

Outlook on the implementation of the work programmes

Within the framework of the work programmes, detailed information and a range of tools are available to businesses and enterprises.

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