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Abschnitt 5.1 BGI/GUV-I 506 E, Preventive activity
Abschnitt 5.1 BGI/GUV-I 506 E
In good hands. Your Statutory Accident Insurance Functions, services and organization (BGI/GUV-I 506 E)
Titel: In good hands. Your Statutory Accident Insurance Functions, services and organization (BGI/GUV-I 506 E)
Normgeber: Bund
Amtliche Abkürzung: BGI/GUV-I 506 E
Gliederungs-Nr.: [keine Angabe]
Normtyp: Satzung

Abschnitt 5.1 BGI/GUV-I 506 E – Preventive activity

"Prevention is better than cure": the proverb is not only familiar, but also true. And in a sense, it is also the motto of the statutory accident insurance system, since the principle is that of "prevention before compensation". For this reason, the statutory accident insurance institutions employ a wide range of measures and resources to ensure that work is carried out safely and healthily - in order to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place at workplaces or in educational establishments, or occupational diseases from being contracted.

On the one hand, the accident insurance institutions have a statutory mandate to assure the prevention of school and occupational accidents, occupational diseases and workrelated health hazards by all suitable means. On the other, it is the employer's obligation to assure safety and health at his own workplaces. This results in a co-operative arrangement involving the accident insurance system and industry: the specially trained inspectors of the labour inspectorates operated by the statutory accident insurance institutions and the public-sector accident insurers advise employers on preventive measures, and monitor their implementation. In addition to state acts and regulations, accident prevention regulations constitute a further legal basis for this work.

In detail: Occupational safety and health regulations

These particularly include:

  • State acts and regulations, which in many cases are transpositions of European Union directives into national law;

  • Accident prevention regulations issued by the accident insurance institutions;

  • Technical rules issued by the state and by the accident insurance institutions.

The accident prevention regulations are issued by the accident insurance institutions. A small number of these apply to all sectors of the economy; others are geared to particular sectors, establishments or areas of activity.

The accident prevention regulations also have the function of implementing state legislation, and are legally binding upon the affected employers and insured individuals. They are supplemented by rules and information for the protection of safety and health, and by codes of practice and other workplace-specific documents, in order to facilitate practical implementation in the various companies by means of illustrative examples and comprehensible explanations free of legalese. In contrast to the accident prevention regulations, the technical rules and other documents are not binding. However, they constitute recommendations of assured quality for how the occupational safety and health issue under consideration should be addressed properly.

Should employers or insured individuals contravene accident prevention regulations deliberately or through gross negligence, the accident insurance institution may impose a fine of up to € 10,000. The same applies in the event of contravention of enforceable orders, issued for example by a labour inspector from an accident insurance institution in the course of a site inspection.

Protection and safety

In the context of the promotion of measures for occupational safety and health in companies, "engineered" occupational safety and health is of great importance to the statutory accident insurance institutions, since machines, installations, work materials and procedures should be designed and selected such that when they are used as intended and work is performed correctly, accidents cannot occur, and work-related health hazards are avoided. Of much greater significance in the prevention activity of the accident insurance institutions and their labour inspectors however is the holistic approach to occupational safety and health, which takes account of the widest possible range of influencing factors, particularly the "human factor".


The prioritization of protective measures

  1. 1

    Engineered protective measures (such as guards on machines, the use of substitutes for hazardous substances, etc.)

  2. 2

    Organizational protective measures (such as the organization of work processes)

  3. 3

    Personal protective measures (such as the wearing of protective helmets)

Behavioural prevention

The objective of behavioural prevention is for workplaces in all areas of company activity to be made safe and healthy by the avoidance of sources of hazards and consideration for all conceivable protective facilities. It extends to organization of occupational safety and health, the safe design of working equipment, working methods and work premises, including all machines, tools and other facilities. Of particular relevance in this context is the advance testing and certification of the safety of technical work equipment performed by the test bodies of the expert committees and of the BGIA Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance. These bodies also attach importance to safety during the selection and use of agents such as chemicals, in the interests of optimum behavioural prevention.

Preventive plant management by the employer

The employer must take all measures for a preventive approach in his plant, and issue corresponding directions. In particular, he must ensure that occupational safety and health is organized in a suitable manner, and must make the necessary resources available. He should direct his employees to work safely and to observe the acts, regulations and accident prevention regulations; and he must draw their attention to the hazards associated with their tasks. For this purpose, the insured individuals must receive instruction, on a regular basis and as necessitated by the circumstances. At the same time, the insured individuals must use the specified protective equipment and follow the instructions for the prevention of accidents.

In accordance with the German Safety at Work Act and the accident prevention regulations pursuant to it, the employer must appoint company physicians and OSH professionals who support him in the prevention activity.

In companies with over 20 employees, the employer must also appoint one or more safety officers in conjunction with the employee representative council. Their task is to support the employer in all occupational safety and health issues within the various areas of company operations. For this purpose, the safety officers receive initial and continual further training from the accident insurance institutions at dedicated training centres.

Practical tip

The "employer model"

The accident insurance institutions offer the "employer model" to small and medium-sized businesses as an alternative to support from OSH professionals. Under this model, the accident insurance institutions raise employers' awareness of OSH problems by means of information and motivational measures, and equip them to identify these problems in plants, to resolve them themselves, or to make use of external consultancy.

A very important, possibly the most important element of a modern occupational safety and health strategy is the hazard assessment which the employer must conduct for each workplace. The statutory accident insurance institutions have produced a wide range of tools for hazard assessment which assist small and medium-sized enterprises in particular in identifying weak points in the protection of safety and health at work. In this context, the prevention services of the accident insurance institutions offer comprehensive practical consultancy by which solutions can be found which are geared to the industrial sector concerned, and thus assist employers with the specific problem at hand.

Special occupational preventive medicine

Persons who are exposed to a particular health hazard in their occupational activity, for example during work with certain hazardous substances, receive support in accordance with the statutory accident insurance institutions' principles for preventive occupational health checks. This means that employers must arrange for regular preventive health checks for the employees performing the tasks concerned, in order to assure the best possible protection for their health.

First aid

Employers must ensure effective first aid for the event of occupational accidents. In particular, this involves the appointment of qualified first-aiders. They are supported in this function for example by the training of the mandatory in-plant first-aiders which is provided by the accident insurance institutions.

Michaela Birke, deputy head of nursing care Ward D2, Berlin accident hospital:

"We attach great importance to preventive activity. Those of us in nursing know its value - because we wonder sometimes whether we will always be physically capable of continuing our profession".


Research and training

Preventive measures also mean innovation: in order for developments in the area of occupational safety and health to be promoted and continually improved, investments in research and development are absolutely essential. The German statutory accident insurance system maintains highly specialized and internationally acclaimed institutes which conduct research, development, consultancy, testing and training. Numerous innovations in the area of occupational safety and health and occupational medicine have been developed by these facilities. The research activities of the statutory accident insurance institutions are characterized by their great relevance to practice: the institutes deliver solutions to topical OSH problems in plants which are rapidly available and suitable for application in the field. Interdisciplinary co-operation also ensures that prevention issues are considered from every angle.

Each research institute within the statutory accident insurance system has a particular focus:

The BGIA Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance

The BGIA conducts research, testing and consultancy in the following fields:

  • Chemical and biological hazards

  • Physical hazards, such as noise, vibration and radiation

  • Safety of new technologies and work processes

  • Safety of engineered work equipment and structural engineering

  • Ergonomics

  • Personal protective equipment

  • Explosion protection

  • Epidemiology

In conjunction with the accident insurance institutions, the BGIA maintains a system for measurement of the workplace exposure of hazardous substances (BGMG) and a hazardous substance information system (GESTIS).

The BGAG Institute Work and health

In its capacity as a joint facility of the statutory accident insurance system, the BGAG has the following functions: Imparting of skills, Research and Consultancy. Their purpose is the raising of awareness of safety and the safeguarding of health at the workplace. The BGAG bridges the gap between theory and practice. At conferences, congresses and seminars for delegates from Germany and abroad, the latest scientific findings can be discussed with practitioners from the field. One focus is the organization of joint events with countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The location of Dresden in the heart of Europe is of particular relevance here.

The BGFA Institute for Occupational Medicine

of the German Social Accident Insurance

An institute of the Ruhr University, Bochum

The BGFA Institute for Occupational Medicine is maintained jointly by the DGUV and the statutory accident insurance institution in the mining industry. Its research foci are the effects of hazardous chemical and biological substances upon human health, and the development of corresponding preventive measures. Complex medical issues are addressed in an interdisciplinary overall concept by the five centres of competence: Medicine, Toxicology, Allergology/immunology, Molecular medicine and Epidemiology.

The research institutes of the statutory accident insurance system on the Internet:

Research institutes maintained by the accident insurance institutions

Besides the DGUV's own institutes, individual statutory accident insurance institutions maintain a number of different research establishments. In addition, numerous research projects conducted by external bodies are sponsored by a DGUV research fund.

Education and training

The education and training conducted by the statutory accident insurance institutions is a cornerstone upon which the high standard of occupational safety and health in Germany is built and sustained. Without knowledge of hazards, effective protection against them is not possible. The insured individuals and their superiors must therefore be informed, motivated and trained on a regular basis. The statutory accident insurance system is one of Germany's largest providers of education and training. Every year, it equips almost 400,000 people with expertise in occupational safety and health. Those trained are primarily employers and managers, OSH professionals, teachers, trainers, trainees and schoolchildren, in addition to many other groups. Seminars on special topics cover various areas, procedures, processes and substances.

Education and training also serves to equip personnel to provide competent and skilled support of the insured individuals and companies. In this context, it is aimed at the staff of the accident insurance institutions and other institutions in the area of insurance, service provision and management.

The DGUV Academy - school of applied sciences of the German Social Accident Insurance

The DGUV Academy, with sites at Bad Hersfeld and Hennef, is the central joint training establishment of the German Social Accident Insurance in the areas of rehabilitation, social legislation and public administration. It provides training in the provision of flexible and comprehensive support for insured individuals and companies. It extends the knowledge and skills of experienced personnel, experts and managers, equipping them to re-integrate employees into their vocational and social lives in accordance with their ability following injury or sickness.

Joint activity and networking with national and international organizations, particularly universities and other institutes of higher education, are important pillars of the overall concept.

The academies of the German Social Accident Insurance on the Internet: