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KANBrief

The KANBrief is a quarterly update concerning news and trends in the field of occupational safety and health and standardization. The print version is published in German, English and French. The electronic version is also available in Italian and Polish.

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Office work

Special

This question was posed by KAN in conjunction with the DGUV at the Dresden Prevention Forum on 6 March 2019. In a discussion chaired by Dr Norbert Lehmann (ZDF), experts from industry and the research and occupational safety and health communities debated whether and how OSH-related research, standardization and regulation are able to keep pace with the strongly accelerated progress of technical development at office workplaces.

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In our digitalized world, developments are taking place at an ever increasing pace. This includes developments in VDU and office workstations. Co-working spaces, open spaces, agile working, Office 4.0: these are just some of the buzzwords used to describe the office of the future and the work performed there. But what about the occupational safety and health regulations in this area? Are they still fit for purpose, or have they long been rendered obsolete by the pace of development?

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The reasoning behind the development of a series of standards specifically addressing mental workload is partly that this workload is associated with consequences of strain (such as monotony) and means of measurement (such as interviews, observation, etc.) that differ from those for physical work requirements. The three parts of EN ISO 10075 provide orientation regarding key terms and principles for the design of work and for requirements concerning measurement methods.

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Smart personal protective equipment (PPE) offers a wide range of novel applications and increased levels of protection. The same is true of smart personal protective systems (PPSs) and PPE ensembles . The development of smart technologies is on the rise; however, companies are still struggling to market the products in series production quantities. A joint initiative by research institutions and manufacturers’ federations aims to increase the efficiency of development and conformity assessment of smart PPE and PPSs.

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Sunshine is something very pleasant and is also very important for the human body. It can however also be dangerous, sunburn being the most obvious sign. Even without visible reddening of the skin, however, we add to our personal UV accounts each time we sunbathe, and our skin does not lose sight of the balance. Excessive exposure causes skin cancer, currently the most common form of cancer. Protection against solar radiation is therefore very important, especially at work.

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Wood pellets have become firmly established on the European market as a heating fuel. Until just a few years ago, it was not widely appreciated that dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) may arise in pellet stores. KAN saw a need for action in this area, and since 2014 has either launched or provided expert support for a package of measures intended to increase occupational safety.

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The "New Approach" adopted in the 1980s has characterized the European Single Market ever since. Much of European legislation covered by it sets out only essential requirements. This legislation leaves it to the standards organizations – private-sector bodies acting, until recently, largely under their own responsibility – to support these essential requirements with harmonized standards that could be updated more frequently, but are not binding. In recent years however, the EU has departed from this basic principle.

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Standards are of crucial importance for machine safety and make a key contribution to preventive activity. They can be used to design work equipment to be safe and ergonomic. Owing to their significance in this respect, the Commission for Occupational Health and Safety and Standardization (KAN) has conducted an analysis to determine whether harmonized standards governing machine safety are still up to date.

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Every year, over 700,000 children in Germany start school. When choosing a satchel, these 5 to 6-year-olds are motivated primarily by its colour and graphics. Parents should however ensure that the satchel is easily visible and complies with the DIN standard. This substantially enhances the safety of their children on the journey to and from school.

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The sixth European conference on standardization, testing and certification to be held from 12 to 14 June 2019, will be hosted by KAN and the DGUV in conjunction with their partners in EUROSHNET, the European network for occupational safety and health experts. Join us and other delegates from all over Europe to discuss the future of standardization, testing and certification in a digitalized world of work, under the heading "Be smart, stay safe together – Innovative products and workplaces".

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Treatment tables with electric height adjustment are in widespread use in physiotherapy practices and hospitals. Two workers were recently trapped beneath such tables, suffering fatal injuries. In January 2019, KAN convened a meeting of experts representing stakeholders for discussion of their respective positions and the complex situation. A number of projects were initiated with the aim of reducing the risk presented by new and legacy treatment tables.

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Work involving construction machinery often requires different tools to be fitted to the boom. Quick couplers (also termed quick hitches) enable machine operators to switch tools without leaving the machine controls. Sadly, many serious or even fatal accidents occur when tools are not correctly interlocked with the quick coupler and consequently fall. KAN is involved in work on improving the relevant standards and making the design of quick couplers safer.

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For some years, the Südwestmetall employers' association has organized study trips to Japan for interested parties. The aim of these trips is to open participants' horizons and to present the innovative corporate systems of leading Japanese companies. A member of staff from the KAN Secretariat joined such a trip, and now reports back with answers to questions such as: How does Japanese work culture differ from that in Germany? What importance is attached to occupational safety and health in Japan?

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In other countries, Japan generally has the reputation of being a pioneer in robotization. Not only does Japanese industry possess the greatest number of installed robots worldwide, robots are now also finding their way into many areas of everyday life. However, some of Japan's most successful companies have a more nuanced attitude to robots, notably the flagship company of Japanese industry, the Toyota Motor Corporation.

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DIN conducts activities in partnership with numerous standards organizations throughout the world. Close networking at European and international level is an important means of focussing experience and expertise and defending interests more effectively on global markets.

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Peer-Oliver Villwock (POV), head of the Occupational Safety and Health Directorate at the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), and Dr Thomas Zielke (TZ), Head of the Technology transfer via standardisation and patents division at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), explain with reference to examples what new challenges are currently facing occupational safety and health and standardization in a rapidly changing world.

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Personal protective equipment is often essential when needles are to be handled. As yet however, suitable test methods do not exist for the testing and assessment of products such as protective gloves for the handling of needles. A new material test method adds a realistic parameter to existing puncture tests, and was recently standardized in a DIN SPEC (PAS).

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Some years ago, a receptor type was discovered in the human eye that is particularly sensitive to radiation in the blue range of the visible light spectrum. Through this receptor – besides other non-visual channels – light influences the human biological clock, the circadian rhythm, sleep, important body functions and well-being.

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The EU Machinery Directive does not apply to rail vehicles, and they are also explicitly excluded from the scope of the German Ordinance on workplaces. However, rail vehicles constitute work equipment in the sense of the German ordinance on industrial safety and health. What role do standards play in railway legislation, and how can the workplaces of engine drivers be designed to be safe? These were among the questions raised at a discussion between experts, hosted by KAN, of railway legislation, standardization and occupational safety and health. more
EN 1789 serves as the basis for the design, manufacture, testing and equipping of ambulances in Europe. As a framework standard, it makes reference to further standards that are required for its application. A party wishing to manufacture, license and operate an ambulance is obliged to observe EN 1789, Medical vehicles and their equipment – Road ambulances, which is currently undergoing revision and Adaptation. more
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Together with KAN, the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) hosted an event on the subject of standardization for skilled craft businesses and medium-sized companies and the challenges of digitalization. The event addressed opportunities and challenges in standardization work. Karl-Sebastian Schulte, CEO of the ZDH, describes the current hot Topics. more
Dr Walter Eichendorf has been Deputy Director General of the German Social Accident Insurance and responsible for the VFA, KAN's sponsoring organization, since 1998. He has also been closely involved in standardization for many years as a member of the DIN Presidial Board. Before he retires in the autumn of 2018, Dr Eichendorf reveals his expectations of standardization in the future, and why it is as important as ever for the statutory accident insurance system. more
Noise harms workers and has hidden costs. The NOMAD (NOise and MAchinery Directive) Task Force group has produced guidance on how machinery manufacturers should declare noise from machines in order to fulfil the essential requirements on noise of the Machinery Directive. NOMAD is a joint project of the Member States and supports the Administrative ­Co-operation Group for Market Surveillance under the Machinery Directive (Machinery ADCO). more
In 2018, the layout of the KAN Praxis ergonomics lecture modules was given a fresh coat of paint, and almost all images were replaced. The new illustrations are from caricaturist Michael Hüter, who has now also presented certain aspects of ergonomics in cartoon form. The first version of the ergonomics lecture modules appeared in 2008 as the outcome of a KAN study. Since then, the modules have been continually extended and revised. more
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A project conducted jointly by the European social partners in the construction sector and CECE, the European construction machinery manufacturers’ association, reveals new modes of communication and cooperation. Direct dialogue between manufacturers and consumers can inspire simple solutions even for quite complex issues, such as better ergonomics for work equipment or safety aspects, and can also support the process of European standardization.

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The accessing of construction machinery – in order to access the driver’s station, for refuelling or topping-up of other fluids, or for the performance of maintenance work – is a scenario in which occupational accidents frequently occur. In order to acquire a better understanding of the reasons for the accidents, the French National Federation of Public Works conducted ergonomic studies in a number of companies. These yielded a number of observations and strategies for solutions, aimed at both the operating personnel and the machinery manufacturers.

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ISO 45001 was published on 12 March 2018 by the International Standards Organization (ISO). In some quarters, the response to the standard’s appearance has been “a star is born”; other affected parties in industry and occupational safety and health have taken a more nuanced view. Opinions on the document now published differ widely. A common translation for Germany, Austria and Switzerland was published in June 2018.

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On 19 December 2017, the European Commission presented a proposal for an EU market surveillance regulation. Should this regulation be adopted, it will have a decisive influence upon the enforcement of market surveillance. The German regional governments are however of the opinion that certain aspects of the regulation require substantial improvement. The regulation imposes a high bureaucratic overhead upon the authorities, and the selection of the intended instruments also requires improvement.

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Light influences the human biological clock and a range of physiological processes. In January 2018, a workshop on such non-visual effects of light was organized for the second time by KAN. Numerous stakeholders are involved in the subject; they differ to some extent in their objectives, however. The KAN workshop promotes the exchange of information between all parties involved, and contributes to a strategy being found for future research, standardization and regulation.

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Emissions of wood or silica dust from new hand-held electric tools are measured with reference to standardized test methods. These methods have certain limits however, resulting in constraints upon their repeatibility. INRS, the French occupational safety and health institute1, proposes a different test method that would enable different machines to be classified for the same work process according to the level of the dust emissions.

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The aim of the Work-by-inclusion project is to integrate persons with impaired hearing into warehousing logistics operations. In the project, the workers involved receive important information via smart glasses. The system also permits communication between employees with and without a hearing disability. more
Robots working in immediate proximity to human beings are regarded as a key step towards the networked, flexible factory of the future. Human-robot collaboration can relieve pressure upon production workers and enable companies to respond more quickly to the demands of the market. The robots' direct proximity to the human operative demands a high level of safety from the assistive systems; at the same time, it also offers potential for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. more
Inclusive work design is part of a wider approach to safeguarding fitness for work. Owing to demographic change, this objective is becoming increasingly important. Technical measures for workplace design and accessibility are key aspects of this activity. They are implemented with the close cooperation and involvement of affected individuals and the elected representatives of the employees with severe disabilities more
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Smart glasses at the workplace are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Hailed (or ridiculed) until quite recently as a futuristic project of the Californian tech scene, these devices have now found their way into warehousing workplaces and manufacturing and maintenance activities. Research into safe use of the devices is however lagging behind development of the technology itself, as is the body of regulations governing them and the associated requirements, which rely upon validated observations. more

Serious injuries frequently occur during the processing of firewood, owing to persons reaching into the sawing or splitting zone. In order to reduce the incidence and severity of accidents, the standards for wood splitting machines and circular saws used for this purpose have been revised. The revision work was based upon discussions held between experts and moderated by KAN, and accident investigations conducted by the Social insurance for agriculture, forestry and landscaping (SVLFG).

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Slinging equipment for logging applications, such as chains, ropes, pulleys or hooks, is used during cable skidding. It serves to connect the tree-trunk to the winch cable. It is important that slinging equipment selected for logging applications is suitable for the purpose and is sufficiently strong to withstand reliably the forces encountered. A standard dedicated to this subject has now been published.

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In the factory of the future, human beings and machines will be linked together by data networks. The "things" and systems will also communicate with each other: workpiece with tool, market with production, production with upstream supplier. However, networking of this kind within production processes and across company boundaries is possible only if standards and specifications are in place that apply throughout the world – and if a well qualified workforce is available. more
Everyone's talking about "Industry 4.0". But what exactly is meant by this "fourth industrial revolution", and what conditions must be in place for it to be brought about? Are completely new technologies really being developed, or is existing technology merely being repackaged? more
The growing availability of affordable communication technologies also puts the smart factory within reach of medium-sized companies. Manufacturers face the challenge of meeting the increasingly differentiated wishes of their customers whilst at the same time manufacturing their products in greater quantities, faster and at lower cost. This is their only way of keeping their businesses viable in the face of growing competition. more
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Operatives and technicians must frequently climb into pressure vessels in order to perform construction, maintenance, repair and inspection work. However, the access points through which they must pass for this purpose are often so small that although access is possible, rescuing these personnel in the event of an accident presents considerable difficulties. The Polytechnic University of Milan has conducted a number of studies into this issue in the course of two degree theses. more
Since 1993, the German health, retirement pensions and accident insurance institutions have worked closely together in the European Representation of the German Social Insurance (DSV) in Brussels, in order to present their interests jointly to EU institutions. For a number of issues, the European Representation is also an important partner for KAN. more
Companies should be gauged not only by their profits and productivity, but also by how well they meet their obligations to society and the environment. The world's seven largest industrial nations (the G7) have added a further aspect: that of human-centredness. How this can be implemented in companies is described by the new EN ISO 27500 standard. more
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EU Member States are at liberty to organize their healthcare systems as they themselves see fit. At the same time, numerous European and international standards currently seek to harmonize this area more closely. Will forms of medical treatment be determined in future less by the specifications of national social insurance agencies and medical associations, and more by standardized European healthcare? A fictitious case study illustrates one possible development. more
In the autumn of 2012, the European Commission launched a revision of the European legislative framework for medical and in-vitro diagnostic medical devices. In the spring of 2017, two new regulations in this area came into force that have resulted in certain changes and also necessitate amendments to national legislation. more
Coinciding conveniently with publication of the new Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/745, KAN has made a further tuition module available online. The Powerpoint slides cover the essential aspects to be considered for the ergonomic design of medical devices. Medical devices range from highly complex equipment such as ventilators, through blood pressure gauges and infusion pumps, to wheelchairs, clinical thermometers and dressings. more
The design of an ambulance station must satisfy the requirements of a range of regulations. Besides the building regulations, these include the state body of OSH regulations, and the body of rules and regulations of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions. The particular aspects associated with use of the building following its construction must also be considered. This may cause considerable difficulties during planning of the building, which must satisfy all these requirements. more
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Founded in 1856, the VDI (Association of German Engineers) currently has a membership of 155,000 individuals and has a long tradition in technical regulation. Every year, over 200 new or updated VDI standards are published. Together with other technical regulators, the VDI supports the objective of creating a coherent body of regulations covering all areas of technology. more