15. January 2023

Instruction duties in the company

What are statutory duties to instruct?

Statutory requirements for mandatory instruction can be found in Section 6 (1) sentences 2 and 3 of the German Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG). According to this, the employer is obliged to instruct employees at least once a year about the hazards and risks of their work and about the measures to avoid or minimize these hazards.

Which legal bases must be known and observed? In Germany, there are various legal regulations that stipulate the implementation of mandatory instruction in the company. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) stipulates that certain instruction obligations must be met. Most of these requirements can be found – among others – in the following paragraphs:

Section 3 (1) of the Industrial Code (GewO): Every employee is obliged to follow the instructions given to him by the employer and to comply with the work, production and quality standards in order to ensure occupational safety. –

Section 13(1) of the Mining and Metalworkers Ordinance (BMV): Workers are required to provide the employer with all necessary information about their work practices and health status. Another law that regulates mandatory briefings is the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances (GefStoffV). Under this law, companies are required to train their employees on how to handle hazardous substances. The training should be tailored to the use of specific hazardous substances and take into account all relevant regulations.

DGUV regulation 1 in § 4 states the following:
The employer is obliged to inform his employees about safety and health protection at work.
This also includes the hazards associated with their work and the measures to avoid them. The instruction must be repeated if necessary, but at least once a year. It must also be documented. Designing on-the-job instruction for employees is an important task for every plant manager. Instruction should take place regularly and provide comprehensive information to all employees so that they can behave appropriately and minimize the risk of serious accidents. The following checklist facilitates the planning and implementation of instructions:

– Inform employees in a timely manner of the timing and process of the instruction. – Prepare the documents and presentation material.
– Make the instruction interesting and varied so that employees remain attentive.
– Make sure that all the employees’ questions are answered.
– Check regularly whether the employees have understood the contents of the instruction.

Workplace instructions must be carefully planned and executed to be effective. Instruction should go into detail and provide an opportunity for a lively exchange of ideas and answers to questions. This is the only way for instruction to be truly effective.

What is to be done after successful implementation of an operational instruction?

Following an in-company instruction session, it is important to document the results. This can take the form of a confirmation of participation or a certificate. Likewise, the instruction documents should be made available for future training.