KANBrief 2/13

Effective standardization: tools of the trade for OSH experts

Whether at national, European or international level, anyone wishing to work effectively on a standardization project must be familiar with the procedures and the scope for exerting influence. In order to equip OSH experts with the necessary tools for the trade, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and KAN hold events suitable for both newcomers to standardization and experienced standardization experts.

All aspects in the life of a standard, from the application for its development through to its possible withdrawal, are explained in a seminar held jointly by KAN and the Institute for Work and Health (IAG) of the DGUV. This seminar, dealing with the principles of standardization work in OSH, has traditionally been held at the IAG in Dresden (Next date: 18-20 October 2013). Actual questions, issues and experience raised and contributed by the participants are also channelled into the seminar. In addition, the pooling of information with other colleagues involved in standardization presents an opportunity for individuals to extend their horizons and learn about other aspects of the subject. One module of the seminar is held in the IAG's practical facilities, where implementation of a standard is studied in a practical context with reference to a specific product.

For experts from Germany's regional governments, the seminar constitutes a module of the secondment programme that LASI has agreed with KAN. This programme is intended for government representatives who deal with the topic of standardization during market surveillance activities or testing within testing bodies, or who have been delegated to work on standards committees.

Standardization has long ceased to be a purely national activity, and increasingly takes place at European and international level. This makes the sharing of information and effective co-operation absolutely essential, and not just within national borders. How do OSH experts in other countries reach a common position? What particular aspects must be considered? What cultural differences influence our co-operation? Only when people truly understand each other are they able to work together efficiently and with confidence, and to present a common standpoint.

The idea has therefore arisen in the EUROSHNET network of OSH experts of transferring the standardization seminar held by IAG and KAN to the European level. French and German OSH experts met for this purpose for the first time in March 2012 at a joint seminar in Brussels. Owing to the highly positive response, a repeat of the seminar is planned for June 2014, this time for French, British and German experts.

KAN has also been involved in the part-time, two-year Master's degree in OSH management, held at Dresden International University (DIU). This has the function of raising awareness for standardization – an intelligent strategy for bringing students into contact with the subject whilst they are still undergoing their training.

A further activity conducted by the DGUV: pooling of experience

The co-ordinating committee of the DGUV expert committees recommends that all experts at the statutory accident insurance institutions who are involved in standardization or are members of state OSH committees take advantage of the annual specialist event on technical regulation and standardization held by the DGUV's Department of Safety and Health in order to pool their experience. Papers, summaries of activity, and workshops promote the pooling of information and experience, which is indispensable in order for the interests of the DGUV expert committees to be presented effectively. Workshop results have already been submitted to numerous committees, have provided stimuli and have consequently resulted in important developments or in necessary corrective action being taken.

The KAN-IAG seminar provides a good overview of the organizational structures in standardization and the procedure for the development of standards at European and international level, and describes the scope that prevention experts have for exerting influence.

For the area of machinery, effective prevention work begins with the manufacturer. The objective must be for only safe machines to be in use in our member companies. The safety requirements set out in the EU Machinery Directive are supported by machinespecific standards. The influence of OSH experts upon the technical content of these standards is of crucial importance for the effectiveness of prevention work and therefore for the prevention of occupational accidents.

Dr. Michael Ebert, BG ETEM
Head of Certification


Angela Janowitz

Siegfried Turowski

Hanna Zieschang