COVID-19 OSH Standard to help protect the health of workers.

SW – 04/2020

As measures put in place to contain the coronavirus continue and the first cautious moves to relax restrictions are being made, there has been a growing number of talks regarding an exit strategy from containment measures and a return to normal economic activities.

European Roadmap

The European Commission, together with the President of the European Council, presented a European Roadmap on 15 April 2020. It sets out the criteria under which the containment measures  resulting from the spread of the coronavirus can be gradually lifted and includes recommendations for the Member States. While recognising that the specificity of each Member State should be taken into account, it is important to ensure coordination between Member States. Before lifting measures, Member States should, at the very least, inform the other Member States and the Commission in a timely manner and take into account their views.

The roadmap recommends a step-by-step approach to restarting economic activities. Although containment measures should be lifted only gradually, a strategic plan for the recovery is necessary to revive the economy and return to sustainable growth. The Commission announced that it will prepare a plan based on a revised proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework and an updated Work Programme for 2020. It is important that this takes into account the green transition and the digital transformation as well as lessons learned from the current crisis in terms of the EU’s preparedness and resilience.

COVID-19 OSH Standard

Aber auch bei einer schritt­wei­sen Wie­der­auf­nahme der Wirt­schafts­tä­tig­keit in Zei­ten der Corona Pan­de­mie haben Sicher­heit und Gesund­heits­schutz bei der Arbeit oberste Prio­ri­tät. Das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS) hat daher in Zusam­men­ar­beit mit der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (DGUV) am 16. April 2020 den „SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzstandard“ vor­ge­stellt, der kon­krete Anfor­de­run­gen an den Arbeits­schutz in Zei­ten der Corona Krise for­mu­liert.

The aim of the SARS-CoV2 OSH Standard is to safeguard the health of workers as economic activities are resumed during the coronavirus pandemic. The OSH Standard outlines a set of protective measures covering technical, organisational and personal measures. Irrespective of each company’s additional measures, in case of doubt where the minimum distance of at least 1.5 m cannot be safely maintained, a mouth-and-nose covering must be provided and worn. Persons with respiratory symptoms or fever should, with a few exceptions, not stay on company premises. Employers must establish a procedure for dealing with suspected cases. The German social accident insurance institutions and the supervisory authorities of the Länder (federal states) will now supplement the general OSH Standard with industry-specific information and advisory services as required.

In addition, the BMAS will set up a temporary advisory group on measures for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 at the workplace in order to be able to react quickly and in a coordinated manner to further developments of the corona pandemic and to make any necessary adjustments to the OSH Standard. The advisory group will include representatives of the BMAS, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Robert Koch Institute, the German Trade Union Federation, the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, the social accident insurance institutions, the Länder and other experts.