Help for companies to meet their obligations.

MM/SW – 03/2019

One of the goals of the European Commission’s Occupational Safety and Health Strategic Framework 2014-2020 is to provide support to companies, especially small and micro enterprises, so that it is easier for them to comply with health and safety rules.


This was also reinforced in the Commission’s Communication of 10 January 2017 on ‘Safer and Healthier Work for All - Modernisation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health Legislation and Policy’. Businesses must be helped to comply with occupational safety and health regulations. This is particularly important for small and micro enterprises because the positive impact of better OSH has the greatest potential in these businesses, but a lack of understanding of existing OSH rules means they are often not put in place.


The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) recently published DGUV Sectoral Rule 115-401 for the Office Businesses Sector in English. This guide also acts as a means of exchanging best practices.

What are DGUV Sectoral Rules?

What hidden hazards are associated with sitting at your desk all day? Everyone understands that you need a safety helmet on a construction site and gloves when working with chemicals. However, glass doors without safety markings or the wrong computer monitor can also be hazardous to health or result in an occupational illness. Similarly, poorly organised work, a lack of feedback or haphazard responsibilities can have a negative impact on a worker’s mental health.


DGUV Sectoral Rules are recommendations for which measures to put in place in order to meet occupational safety and health requirements. The rules are not legally binding.  The rules are targeted primarily at employers and are particularly helpful as a guide for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).


The German Social Accident Insurance publishes its Sectoral Rules to help companies with occupational safety and health measures that are targeted specifically to their sector. The rules are drawn up by experts from the DGUV and other organisations, together with company OSH representatives. They summarise German OSH regulations, accident prevention rules, OSH standards and numerous statutory requirements specific to a sector. They also contain a myriad of practical tips and advice for implementing occupational safety and health in a company.


Against the background of globalisation and an emerging start-up culture in Germany, there are more and more offices run by English-speaking owners and managers or which have English-speaking employees, and not just in the big cities. To help them cut through the red tape of ‘German legalese’ in the area of occupational safety and health, the German Social Accident Insurance has recently published its Sectoral Rule for the Office Businesses Sector in English. Using the guide, employers can address the risks and hazards to the safety and health of their employees which often lurk beneath the surface of their everyday work, and at the same time create a work environment that promotes good health.