Memorandum submitted by DGUV
Which legal provisions exist in the field of occupational
health and safety?
SGB VII (Social Code VII), Occupational Safety
Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act
In the area of social employment protection:
Working Time Act
Maternity Protection Act
Young Workers Protection Act
Temporary Employment Act
In the area of work equipment standards:
Equipment and Product Safety Act
In the area of chemicals on the market:
What role does the DGUV (German Statutory Accident
Insurance Association) play in the German system?
The DGUV is the leading association of employers'
liability insurance associations and public sector accident insurers.
The association identifies the common interests of its members
and promotes their work with the aim of benefiting insured parties
and companies. The DGUV represents the field of statutory accident
insurance in the political arena at Land and federal level, in
European and other national and international institutions, as
well as in discussions with social partners.
The DGUV is also responsible for representing
the whole spectrum of statutory accident insurers during the current
development of the Common German Occupational Health and Safety
Strategy (GDA). In this capacity, the DGUV is an equal partner
in the GDA alongside the Federal Government and the Lander.
Information on Germany's "No-Fault"
compensation system: How does it work? What are its advantages?
Relieving of liability, compensation is ensured,
no legal disputes . . .
The system whereby statutory accident insurance
enters in place of private liability is predominantly governed
by Section 104 and following sections of the Social Code VII.
The limitation of the company's liability for damages, as well
as that of other employees, functions in material terms like liability
insurance, and is a fundamental component of the statutory accident
insurance system as a whole. Rather than making civil claims against
their own employer, accident victims submit their claim to accident
insurers. By paying contributions, companies earn the right to
be held liable for insurance claims only in the narrow circumstances
specified in Section 104 of the Social Code VIIin most
cases, therefore, only where the accident was intentional. The
employer's obligation to pay contributions is thus linked to an
obligation on the part of the accident insurer to protect the
employer in the event of claims by third parties. This system
is supported by the following arguments:
Financing argument: if the employer alone provides
the contributions for statutory accident insurance, it is right
and proper that he should be relieved of liabilitysubject
to the conditions stipulated in Section 104 and onwards of the
Social Code VII. Furthermore, the risk arising from insurance
claims is calculable for the employer (c.f. insolvencies in America
as a result of insurance claims).
Harmony argument: in the interest of company
harmony, legal disputes between employers and employees should
Advantages for insured parties: fixed lump-sum
claims can be made to accident insurers even without proof of
blame or damages; no complications as a result of contributory
negligence; the fact that action may have been taken against a
prohibition does not rule out acceptance of a claim.
Implementation/monitoring of provisions: How does
this happen? Who is responsible?
Technical supervisory service of the insurers'
liability insurance associations, health and safety inspections
carried out by the Lander (trade supervision).
Under Section 17 of the German Social Code VII,
accident insurers are to monitor company implementation of measures
intended to prevent accidents at work, occupational illnesses,
and work-related health risks, and to ensure effective first aid.
They must also advise employers and insured parties. Accident
insurers may stipulate in each individual case the measures which
the employer or the insured parties must take. These sovereign
tasks are to be carried out by supervisory officers based within
the accident insurance companies in line with Section 18 of the
Social Code VII. Subject to conditions laid down in the Code,
the supervisory officers have the right to access companies and
may issue orders and fines.
Cooperation with companies. Is it good? Where
may difficulties/resistance arise?
Cooperation between the supervisory officers
and the companies is for the most part good. The supervisory officers
approach the companies as consultants offering advice on health
and safety issues. Isolated problem cases are most likely to arise
in small or medium-sized enterprises where the employer shows
no willingness to afford health and safety appropriate consideration
in the organisation of the company. In these cases, the supervisory
officer may be required to impose orders.
Are companies legally obliged to observe occupational
health and safety provisions?
Yes. Employers are obliged to observe not only
health and safety provisions issued by the state, such as acts
and ordinances, but also accident prevention regulations issued
by statutory accident insurance companies.
What are the advantages of legally binding provisions
as opposed to voluntary guidelines such as those in the UK?
Legal obligations create legal certainty and
make it easier for employersparticularly small and medium
sized operatorsto fulfil the health and safety requirements
incumbent on them. The companies know that, by fulfilling the
regulations, they remain "on the safe side".
Where necessary, do binding standards give health
and safety personnel within the company (security personnel, works
doctor, safety inspector) better scope for arguing the case for
health and safety measures with their employer?
The benefits of legally binding standards for
ensuring implementation of health and safety measures also extend
to health and safety figures outside the company, such as the
supervisory officers of the accident insurance companies or trade
How has the introduction of legal obligation affected
(the number of) accidents at work?
The number of notifiable accidents at work per
1,000 full jobs or the number of notifiable accidents at work
for every 1 million working hours has been falling for many years
(with the exception of 2006). The fact that employers are legally
bound to observe health and safety provisions is undoubtedly one
reason for this positive development.
Has this also led, for example, to health and
safety becoming an issue at management level?
The system of self-administration in German
statutory accident insurance means that both employers and insured
parties have a strong sense of identification with the health
and safety regime in their company. Health and safety takes place
within the workplace, and the concerned parties, ie the employer
and the insured employees, manage the system independently.