Job security in the industry and in the office: that's what employers have to guarantee!

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Occupational safety and health is very important in Germany - employers and employees must comply with numerous statutory provisions from the Social Security Code or the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Ultimately, it is also an employer branding topic. An overview of the most important regulations. Best of HR –®

Important note: This entry contains content and information that may be out of date, eg due to legal or statistical changes. Because it can still be helpful to get an overview of the topic, you can still find it here.

Here writes for you:


Susanne Kleimst is an analyst and specialist journalist for German-speaking countries.


On the history of job security

Before 150 years, the conditions were in many Company and factories a disaster. With industrialization, which moved from Great Britain to the states of later Germany, not only society was turned upside down. Wage workers had to work in conditions that today are considered inhuman. One consequence of strenuous and tiring activities was a massive number of accidents. Affected families lost an income - and slipped socially even further. The 19. Century has not only created the first social insurance against this background.

During this phase of economic upheaval, occupational safety also came into being. Companies have been obliged by law to protect workers - through appropriate conditions in the workplace. An “invention” that continues to have an impact today. The modern world of work would be unthinkable without the layer of wage workers and occupational safety. This is facing a new challenge today. More and more professions are being moved to the office. And even in industry, digitization ensures that there is a new path to take in occupational safety. Which regulations and laws apply today and what do those affected have to consider?

The legal regulations for job security

Today, proper compliance with health and safety regulations is even an employer branding issue. For which highly qualified specialist would like to work in a company that endangers her health.

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As many accidents at work, there is even a book in Germany - on the part of the DGUV. The German Social Accident Insurance has for 2017 a decline of 0,4 percent over the previous year, Nevertheless, more than 870.000 work accidents still happened.

Compared to the last 20 years, however, their number has decreased significantly. One reason is the legal rules that apply here. Decisive for the safety in the workplace is the labor protection law. This is not only relevant. In practice, a distinction is made between general occupational safety and health and the direct employment environment.

Social work protection includes, among others:

  • working hours
  • Maternity Protection
  • Youth work.

Moreover, SGB VII (Social Code 7., Book) also intervenes in this area. It is responsible for the accident insurance and accordingly includes various protection regulations.

The labor protection law

Although the ArbSchG is the central law for occupational safety, it ultimately only provides the framework for occupational safety and health. A special feature is the ordinances derived from the law, which regulate individual areas in detail.

These include, among others:

  • Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV)
  • Betriebssicherheitsverordnung (BetrSichV)
  • Ordinance on Occupational Health Prevention (ArbMedVV).

Until 2016 existed its own regulation for computer workstations. The various regulations not only create a framework for workplaces in production or trade. Regarding office workstations, too, the regulations are relevant - for example, when it comes to aspects such as accessibility, the optimal room temperature or ventilation goes, All of these aspects are important to whether employees can do a good job.

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The most important aspects of occupational safety

Job security or occupational safety is not an easy topic - especially when it comes to details. At first glance, only interesting for companies, should also concern employees. Background: Employers have the task of ensuring the safety of employees and protecting their health. Companies, in which these two area come too short, can usually be recognized quite early.

What does occupational safety actually look like? In general, flat-rate answers in this context are not so easy. Essentially, the catalog of measures depends on the hazard.


A construction company faces different challenges in terms of occupational safety than a marketing agency. Which special features can be derived from this example. Construction companies are at risk for:

  • Weigh
  • Motor-driven tools
  • dusts
  • Working at high altitude
  • harmful substances

relevant. So it comes with a renovation in the old building before, that the dust load (by rubble) can turn out very high. At the same time, there is the risk of being confronted with challenges such as asbestos.

Occupational safety measures are dependent on the respective situation

Occupational health and safety is based here on the one hand on the personal protective equipment (PPE), which consists of safety boots / shoes and helmets, noise protection and respiratory protection. On the other hand, companies must ensure that the equipment complies with all protection regulations. When working at height, for example, work with appropriate safety equipment.

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A completely different situation arises with computer workstations. Among other things, health problems result from the design of the workplace - keyword: posture damage. In the past, the topic of occupational safety was the question of how laser printers (through fine dust) cause a health burden. An idea of ​​how complex the design of computer workstations can be mediates the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety.

Occupational safety wants safety

Occupational safety threatens to be reduced by companies and employees to the pure workplace. However, this attitude does not apply in practice. Background: The legislature is more in the direction of a holistic concept. This aspect becomes particularly clear with regard to the Workplace Ordinance. This is about creating a certain work environment for employees. Because of this claim, the Workplace Ordinance also deals with aspects such as:

  • Barrierefreiheit
  • traffic routes
  • Security lighting.

One aspect that is unique in the regulation is first aid. Here, among other things, the extent to which first aid kits must be kept available (number depending on the number of employees) or from which size of company premises separate premises for first aid must exist. The latter can be set up, for example, in companies with a particular risk from a workforce of 100 employees.

This range of workplace regulations makes them important in terms of safety at work. But: It is not enough just to pass laws and regulations. For occupational safety and health to be effective in practice, compliance must be monitored. And this is in addition to the accident insurance in Germany the occupational safety and trade inspectorates responsible.

These rules can cause problems

Occupational safety has become a matter of course for employees. In practice, the different regulations can quickly cause problems. Especially for smaller companies, challenges arise from the various regulations. And partly there are situations that are not entirely unproblematic for everyone involved.

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Example sanitary facilities for female employees

Examples include the sanitary facilities. The requirements of these are regulated by the Workplace Ordinance. The latter deals in great detail with the structural conditions. For example, a clear height of 2,50 meters is required. And the regulation lays value on another aspect - the separation of man and woman.

Companies are required to maintain their own sanitary facilities for female employees. What if this is not possible? Does it mean in the end that the company becomes a pure male domain?

Law provides scope

No, the regulation also offers certain possibilities here. If the number of employees does not exceed nine, a common use of the sanitary facilities may be allowed - provided that the usage can be separated by gender.

Another sensitive issue is accessibility. Not every company can produce these easily. Even workplaces in the office must meet certain security requirements. In addition, it is also about the right conditions such as the ambient temperature or break rooms.

Conclusion: Occupational health and safety over the course of time

How safe are the jobs in Germany? The easiest way to answer this question is to look at the accident statistics. In the early 1990s, their numbers were shockingly high. Meanwhile, the number has fallen well below the mark of 1 million work accidents per year. This development is also due to increasingly better occupational safety.

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The development started in the 19. Century. And even today, occupational safety faces new challenges again and again. A fact that is evident in the accessibility and the reforms to the VDU workstation. Even if some of the measures seem unnecessary from the point of view of companies, every accident that can be prevented complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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  1. Ulrike

    I think of course you have to differentiate between companies that do dangerous work and companies that work less dangerous. A classic office, with an operation that uses harmful substances, has significantly less risk of injury. I think that companies that do dangerous work should urgently install evacuation systems. These can be used to clear the entire company in good time in an emergency!

    • Simone Janson

      I agree with you, but sitting alone is harmful to your health ;-)

  2. Lars

    I think occupational safety is really very important, especially if you work in industry. A friend of mine has to work with a chamber furnace every day. These ovens heat up to 700 degrees. There must really be the utmost caution, so that nothing happens to the employee.

    • Simone Janson

      Thank you for the advice!

  3. Manual

    Your blog actually contains great tips on occupational safety, thanks for that!

  4. Cathryn Ramsden

    Great blog, I like to read.

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