KANBrief 1/17

DGUV Sectoral Rules: occupational safety and health at users' fingertips

How can companies ascertain which of the numerous – and in some cases somewhat abstract – OSH rules and measures of the state and of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions (Guideline paper on the reorganization of occupational safety and health legislation, 2011 (in german)) they are required to apply? The new prevention instrument of the Sectoral Rule is the answer to this question (cf. Marcus Hussing, Thomas Kolbinger, Die Branchenregel - ein neues Präventionsinstrument, in: DGUV Forum 3/2012, p. 16-20, (in German)). Sectoral Rules compile the requirements and information from the various OSH regulations, and provide companies with a one-stop resource containing all the important information at a glance.

Sectoral Rules are intended to be a clearly structured compendium containing all the essential information relating to occupational safety and health in a particular sector. They reveal specific areas presenting hazards and propose corresponding solutions suitable for implementation in the field. They do not formulate new legislation; rather, they compile obligations from the existing bodies of regulations of the state and the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions, recommendations drawn from the bodies of rules, and non-binding requirements in DIN standards and VDE guidelines. Aspects such as ergonomics, health promotion and accessibility are also to be included. The Sectoral Rules are intended in the first instance for employers in small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time, they provide support to occupational physicians, OSH professionals and safety delegates.

All Sectoral Rules share a uniform structure
Each Sectoral Rule contains a brief introduction describing its content and targets. Chapter 2 presents the principles of occupational safety and health in concise form, divided into a general and a sector-specific section. The core of each Sectoral Rule is the third chapter. This lists the hazards of all workplaces and tasks in a sector, and presents measures for safety and health at work. Each double page describes a workplace or task. Information boxes, highlighted in colour, draw readers' attention to the key statutory principles and to further information. Finally, the Sectoral Rules include an annex containing, where required, definitions of terms, an index of key terms for certain hazards, workplaces, tasks, working methods and OSH measures, and further useful information.

Sectoral Rules do not cite statutes or standards verbatim. OSH duties deriving from statutory provisions are formulated clearly, concisely and graphically in language appropriate to the readership and with reference to the specific task or workplace. A direct form of address and use of the active mode of speech rather than long, passive constructions provide a clear explanation of measures and obligations. Images showing examples of good practice and easily grasped symbols in the individual sections facilitate swift location of the appropriate measure in day-to-day activity.

Development of Sectoral Rules
Sectoral Rules are drawn up in the 15 expert committees and almost 100 sub-committees of the DGUV (DGUV Principle 300-001. DGUV expert committees and sub-committes, May 2011 – updated in April 2015 (pdf, in German)). The core purpose of these committees is to formulate and publish a binding, uniform and validated expert opinion on prevention topics for all accident insurance institutions. In the expert committees, representatives of the employers' and employees' associations work together with representatives of the German federal and regional governments and experts on the safety and health of workers at work.

During development of a Sectoral Rule, the sub-committees also evaluate the DGUV's existing body of rules and regulations. Accident prevention regulations, rules and informative documents that no longer reflect current good practice in technology, occupational medicine and industrial hygiene are withdrawn.

The first Sectoral Rule was published on 17 March 2016 by the Raw Materials and Chemical Industry expert committee: DGUV Rule 113-601, Sector: extraction and processing of mineral raw materials. Since then, further rules have been published (waste collection; waste treatment; temporary employment; call centres (Sectoral Rules published to date (in the form of DGUV Rules, in German): DGUV: Search term: "Branche") or are scheduled for publication in the near future (building shell construction).

Altogether, the Prevention Principles Committee (GAP) of the DGUV Governing Committee has approved projects for almost 40 Sectoral Rules. The areas governed by these rules include schools, office-based companies, companies in the baking trade, building cleaning, and civil engineering. The next aim of the DGUV's expert committees and sub-committees is to make the Sectoral Rules available in the form of apps for use on tablets and smartphones. 


Dr. Sebastian Felz
Safety and Health Department (DGUV)