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Occupational health and safety instruction: Instruct the basics of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

According to Section 12 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, an employer is obliged to instruct all employees comprehensively and appropriately within working hours in the field of occupational safety and health protection.

For companies, instructions are more than just a legal requirement. With each instruction, employees are additionally trained and qualified. In this way, companies of all sizes optimize health promotion and optimally involve employees in the existing occupational health and safety. How an occupational health and safety instruction in accordance with Section 12 ultimately turns out depends on the employee's area of ​​responsibility. In this article we go into the implementation and objective setting based on the legal basis regarding occupational health and safety instruction.

What is occupational health and safety instruction?

The occupational health and safety instruction, also known as instruction, aims to educate employees about the dangers of their workplace, to teach correct processes and behaviors and thus to prevent accidents. Instruction according to the ArbSchG § 12 is intended to help employees in a company to work more safely and in a healthier manner. There are different legal requirements for the instruction and occupational health and safety instruction. They are integrated into the large subject areas of occupational health and safety and health protection.

Occupational health and safety instruction, instruction, instruction and risk assessment

In everyday professional life there is often confusion as to what the terms

  • Occupational safety instruction,
  • Instruction,
  • Instruction and
  • Risk assessment concerns.

The term occupational health and safety instruction does not mean anything other than instruction. Instruction should always be preceded by a risk assessment. Based on this inventory, all important measures can be derived in order to train employees extensively and to inform them about potential dangers. On the other hand, instruction in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and other legal principles is a stipulated training measure to increase occupational safety. The instruction, in turn, can be part of the instruction.

The risk assessment, like the instruction itself, is one of the employer's statutory obligations.

Further legal regulations for the instruction (safety instruction)

There are various legal bases for instruction and occupational health and safety instruction in the company. Here is an overview of the most important paragraphs:

Entrepreneur duty: who is responsible for the instruction?

Instruction is more than just passing on specialist knowledge. Because these measures can be viewed as part of the corporate culture or corporate philosophy. Accordingly, they are part of the management style and represent the respect that management has for its employees.

As part of these training measures, company management must inform employees about possible hazards in the workplace. In addition, corporate managers must protect their employees from occupational diseases or an occupational accident in the company.

Similar to company health management, managers are important role models for the workforce. At the same time, the company management shows that the health of the employees is important to them by dealing with issues that concern the employees.

It is a fundamental advantage if company managers integrate the instruction into their own behavior. In this way, they can clearly “exemplify” operational safety and health for everyone involved. This also increases the employees' motivation to instruct. The obligation to instruct according to § 12 ArbSchG also offers companies the opportunity to improve operational processes by reducing risks and minimizing dangers. At the same time, better trained and educated employees are usually more motivated and do their jobs more conscientiously.

If occupational health and safety instruction is understood as part of the corporate culture, it is also part of the process to regularly check the results of the instruction. In this way, all employees understand that the topic is really important to those responsible. It is advisable for companies to develop their own know-how in the field of occupational safety and increase their workforce for this.

Who is allowed to give instruction?

In principle, the employer can freely decide who carries out the training of the employees in his company. However, he is responsible for the safety and health protection of his employees and should only entrust qualified and trustworthy persons with the task of safety training. In addition, the employer must ensure that the appointed person adheres to the specifications, presents content correctly and does not forget the proof of instruction. The following employees are usually commissioned to carry out occupational safety instructions:

Companies can use the following options for training external companies:

  • Manufacturers of devices that are used in the company
  • fire Department
  • Physiotherapist

In order to optimally inform external specialists from external companies about the dangers of the activity or the task environment, it is advisable to hand over the company's internal operating rules.

Regardless of who else is involved in the instruction: In the last instance, the company management is always responsible for all measures taken.

Do not forget proof of instruction

Every occupational safety instruction must be recorded in writing and must be confirmed by the instructed person with a signature. The written proof of instruction must be kept until the next occupational safety instruction. However, the special statutory regulations that require a two-year retention period for occupational health and safety instructions must be observed.

Participants must be issued with an ADR training certificate, especially for safety instructions on dangerous goods.

Occupational health and safety instruction: How can employees be instructed?

Instruction can take place in different ways, for example as a lecture, seminar, practical course or with the help of brochures and films. In principle, this special training measure is intended to provide information about possible health hazards when working. At the same time, these events provide the opportunity to acquire and refresh your own knowledge and skills in the field of occupational health and safety.

Every company creates role models with instruction so that employees can strengthen and help each other when it comes to safety and occupational safety.

Important teaching aids

An instruction plan is a good aid so that all participants in the safety briefing are familiar with the process and the topics. With an instruction plan, all upcoming instructions can be listed and designed in a meaningful way. In addition, employees have the opportunity to find out about the topics of the training in advance.

With the help of the instruction protocol, you can give all participants a document with which they can prove that they have participated in the instruction. In addition to the topic, the minutes should also include the occasion, the date and the signature of the person taking part. On the basis of the protocol, the company management can also prove that the instruction was carried out.

What are the advantages of occupational health and safety instruction or instruction for companies?

Instruction is not just a legal obligation. Companies can also benefit from the following advantages:

  • Opportunity to achieve information and motivation for employees with targeted measures
  • Joint optimization of work processes to increase operational efficiency
  • Increase in work safety
  • Reduction of work interruptions due to disruptions
  • Reducing the workload of employees
  • lower sick leave
  • lower injury rate due to better risk assessment by employees
  • higher productivity and employee satisfaction

These topics are included in the instruction or occupational health and safety instruction

The topics of the instruction depend on the sources of danger in the company. Therefore the risk assessment forms the basis for the occupational safety instruction. A safety data sheet and the operating instructions also provide important information on risks and protective measures for the activity to be instructed.

Occupational health and safety instruction can relate to different topics of occupational safety and corporate health promotion. Since every company has specific requirements for health and safety at work, the measures must be individually adapted as part of the instruction. Because strict rules and laws apply to occupational safety in Germany.

  • Health risks and other hazards based on the risk assessment
  • Protective measures for the hazards described
  • Correct behavior e.g. B. protective processes such as wearing PPE
  • What to do in an emergency B. how first aid has to be provided
  • Content from regulations and rules
  • Immediate life-saving measures in the event of accidents at work through first aid
  • Introduction to the use of the first aid kit
  • Training in the use of an AED
  • Training on ergonomic working / sitting at the workplace and computer work
  • Information about healthy eating in the workplace
  • Performing relaxation exercises under supervision
  • Explanation for improving the work-life balance
  • Tips on healthy break behavior
  • Training for first aiders in the company
  • Further training in corporate health management
  • Discussion about workplace health promotion
  • Tips on skin protection and skin care
  • Training in the use of personal protective equipment
  • Explanation of the disinfection and hygiene plan
  • Hygiene instruction and infection protection instruction
  • Introduction to the use of equipment or vehicles
  • Operator training for cranes or lifting platforms
  • Instruction of industrial trucks
  • Training in work organization
  • Fire protection instruction: conduct in the event of fire, evacuation exercise

The list of potential hazards is long, as is the list of instructions. Therefore, the instructions should always be varied so as not to lose the employees' attention.

In this manual you will find all the important information on activities, occupational safety, a quick check for hazards in the workplace and a template for risk assessment of hazardous substances.

When and how often does the occupational safety instruction have to be given?

Irrespective of the recommended annual interval for the instruction, there are special occasions on which the employee training is required as an "initial instruction".

  • Hiring new employees: Every new team member should receive comprehensive training on occupational safety and health in their area before starting work.
  • Change of job or task: If employees change jobs within the company or are assigned a new task, adequate initial training should always take place.
  • Introduction of new devices or work equipment: If there are new devices in the company, initial training is not only important for occupational safety, but also for the correct operation of the devices. The instruction can thus be integrated into conventional employee training courses, for example.
  • New results from the risk assessment: If a new risk assessment has revealed new measures that have to be carried out, all those involved must be instructed again.
  • Disturbed work processes: Instructions can also be used if managers observe a work posture that could endanger the health of employees, for example careless handling of dangerous materials or machines.
  • Changes to legal requirements or ordinances: If there are changes to the legal framework for occupational safety, these changes must be communicated to all employees as part of an initial briefing.
  • Accidents or near-accidents: If there was an accident in the company or if a dangerous accident was almost caused, the event offers a good opportunity for instruction. In this context, possible hazard potentials can be uncovered and illustrated again.

When the instructions are to take place ultimately always depends on the individual case, the operational requirements and the development of the risk. The accident prevention regulations, however, stipulate that the occupational safety instructions must be repeated at least every six to twelve months.

Occupational safety is an important and central topic for companies in all industries. For this reason, instructions should be given at least once a year. The younger the employees are, for example trainees, at least two instructions per year must be carried out.

Do the occupational safety instructions belong to working hours?

Yes, the time during the occupational safety instruction is counted as normal working time.

Plan and organize employee training: practical tips

The following questions can help to formulate the goals so that an employee briefing is accepted:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve with the instruction?
  • Do I want to make my employees more generally aware of a topic or do I want to deal with a specific topic?
  • Are there any new findings that I would like or need to present?
  • Is there any previous knowledge on the part of the employees?
  • Should the instruction also acquire or consolidate certain skills?
  • Is motivation or knowledge transfer in the foreground?

Depending on the goals, the appropriate methods for the instruction can then be selected.

Common methods and media for teaching

Occupational health and safety instruction for the office

Although occupational safety instruction is often associated with the safe use of work equipment and machines, employees with an office workplace must also be instructed accordingly in accordance with Section 12 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act - ArbSchG. The occupational health and safety instruction should not only help to protect the respective employee, but also serve to maintain the health of the employees in the office. At the same time, the occupational safety instructions for the office help to keep the work results at a constant level. As with all other workplaces, the employer is also obliged to carry out a risk assessment for office positions. The psychological stress is also determined!

Possible health risks in the office:

  • too weak or dazzling lighting
  • mobbing
  • Noise pollution
  • monotonous work
  • defective, electronic work equipment
  • bad indoor climate

6 topics for occupational safety instruction for the office

  1. How to sit properly in the workplace.
  2. Back exercises for in between.
  3. Office chairs and height-adjustable desks must always be adapted to the height of the worker.
  4. It is advisable to check the functionality of the electronic equipment on a regular basis.
  5. As far as possible, alternating activities should be carried out in order to avoid a one-sided, psychological burden on the employee.
  6. In order to prevent electrosmog, all devices that are not required should be switched off or only activated when they are needed.

Instruction for people with intellectual disabilities

Of course, in workshops or other industries with mentally handicapped people, the duty to be instructed by the employer also applies. Since the employees' ability to concentrate or comprehension are often limited, it is up to the company management to adapt methods and the type of communication to the existing circumstances.

Help can be provided, for example, by information material in simple language or illustrated information sheets. In addition, this simple information should contain a concrete reference to the respective work. For example, it is an advantage if the illustrated instructions are enhanced with photos from your own workshop and people who actually work in the company are shown.

Occupational safety instruction for interns necessary or not?

If you have employed interns in your company, the question naturally arises whether they must also be instructed in accordance with Section 12 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The answer is short and sweet, "Yes", because § 12 and § 2 Paragraph 2 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act refer to employees and employees similar to employees. The term “employee-like persons” now also includes interns.

Since students and schoolchildren are legally insured against accidents, they are also required to be instructed according to DGUV regulation § 14.

What content has to be conveyed to the intern?

In addition to the general safety rules that apply in your company, such as

  • the wearing of personal protective equipment as soon as it is prescribed and the observance of further protective measures,
  • a complete briefing on the premises of your company, with special attention to the footpaths and escape routes,
  • the correct behavior of interns in the event of danger (first aid, emergency call),

applies to young interns under the age of 18, the Youth Labor Protection Act also applies. On this basis, you should carefully check which activities the intern can carry out at all and which working time regulations must be adhered to. Because underage interns and employees are generally prohibited from working on dangerous workplaces and machines!

How can a success control be carried out?

Instructions are only successful if all employees implement the methods and actions imparted in the training courses in their professional practice. Various methods are available to monitor and document the success of the instruction:

  • Regular inquiries: By regularly asking your employees whether the agreements made are being kept or how they are implementing them, you show interest. At the same time, you can check whether your training was successful.
  • Questionnaires: Questionnaires can also be handed out to monitor success. In these, for example, it is asked why certain changes in behavior have not yet taken place or whether it is due to the necessary knowledge that safety recommendations are not being followed.

It is important that the company management is always aware of the fact that a change in behavior usually takes a long time. But precisely for this reason, the evaluation of instructions and safety instructions should take place again and again.

If there are employees who do not participate sufficiently and who do not generally accept the behavior taught in the training courses and lectures, they can be reminded of their duty to cooperate. Because this exists, for example, according to DGUV regulation.

But it is much more important that everyone involved is aware that the instruction is only for the benefit of everyone and serves their safety. Because management and workforce alike benefit from an increase in occupational safety and health protection.

Industry-specific, legal basis for safety training

Conclusion on health and safety instruction

The occupational safety instruction, also known as instruction, protects all employees of a company from accidents and hazards in the workplace. Every company should care about everyone's safety. In addition, occupational safety is subject to legal requirements, which are anchored in Section 12 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act - ArbSchG. This must be completed at least once a year. In special cases even several times a year.

Author: Editorial Team Safety Xperts