Company doctor

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A company doctor or occupational physician (AM) is a position in a company with at least one employee or an authority required by the respective law of an EU member state. All of these laws are implementations of the EU framework directive 89/391. The central task is to advise the entrepreneur or employer, the safety representatives and the workforce bodies in the field of occupational safety and humane work design and to support the employer in fulfilling their duties in this area.

Company doctor in Germany

The company doctor is the doctor appointed by the employer in accordance with the law on company doctors, safety engineers and other specialists for occupational safety ( Occupational Safety Act - ASiG). For both private and public companies, the details are regulated by the regulations of the statutory accident insurance providers , e.g. B. by regulation DGUV 2 of the German Social Accident Insurance (formerly BGV A2 of the individual professional associations) (see also BuS-care ). The employer may only appoint doctors who have the necessary occupational health expertise. Specialists in occupational medicine or doctors with the additional designation industrial medicine meet this requirement. In individual cases, the responsible medical association decides on the recognition of occupational medical expertise.


The task of company doctors is to promote and maintain health and the ability to work and employ people, and to some extent also to help restore them. In doing so, they rely on a holistic view of the working person, taking somatic, psychological and social processes into account.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (ArbSchG), which implements EU directives into German law, the employer must determine which occupational safety measures are required ( risk assessment ). He has to carry out and document the assessment depending on the type of activity. Pay particular attention to

  • the design and furnishing of the workplace and the workplace
  • physical, chemical and biological effects
  • the design, selection and use of work equipment, in particular working materials, machines, devices and systems, and how they are handled
  • the design of work and manufacturing processes, work processes and working hours and their interaction
  • adequate qualification and instruction of the employees

In addition, the employer has to enable the employees to undergo regular occupational medical examinations, depending on the dangers to their safety and health at work. In special cases, the employer is even obliged to have preventive occupational health care carried out.

For these tasks, the employer is often dependent on the special expertise of company doctors and specialists for occupational safety.

More details are in the Occupational Safety Act (ASiG) in the Regulation on Occupational Health Care (ArbMedVV), the accident prevention regulation DGUV Regulation 2 "company doctors and specialists for occupational safety regulated and other provisions in detail. The ArbMedVV summarizes regulations from the national work safety regulations along the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances , Biological Agents , Genetic Engineering Safety Ordinance , Noise and Vibration Occupational Safety Ordinance , Compressed Air Ordinance , Screen Work Ordinance , Industrial Safety Ordinance and Workplace Ordinance .

Company doctors play an important role in company prevention and health promotion . Their competencies also include the integration of disabled people into working life, the gradual reintegration into working life in the company and integration management according to § 167 SGB ​​IX . Through their intensive involvement in the world of work and the associated access to very different groups of people, they can make significant contributions to the targeted integrated care in the health system.

Larger companies with several thousand employees usually have their own company medical departments. The doctors working there (company doctors) often perform additional tasks, for example as in-house emergency doctors with the appropriate infrastructure and equipment.


After completing the medical degree, there is a five-year, full-time medical training course to become a specialist in occupational medicine . In addition to the field name specialist in occupational medicine, there is also the additional title in Germany Occupational Medicine . It requires an already existing specialist certification in an area of ​​immediate patient care. Almost every specialist can acquire this additional qualification in a one-year, full-time further education. In both cases, the basis of further training is a course of at least 360 hours (approx. 9 weeks) in which topics from occupational medicine, occupational psychology, ergonomics, technology, economics, law, social insurance, etc. are dealt with. Basic knowledge in these subjects is essential for occupational health. During the advanced training, the interns gain practical experience in all areas of occupational medicine under the guidance of their trainer. Both training courses conclude with an examination. The regulation is similar in Austria; there, too, an additional qualification can be acquired if another specialist qualification is already available.

Position in the company

The company doctor is appointed in writing by the employer (external doctor or employee of the company). The company doctor reports directly to the entrepreneur and has the position of a staff unit . There is no authority to issue instructions to employees from this position.

The company doctor is a member of the occupational safety committee .

The company doctor is obliged to work with the works council and, if requested, to advise it ( Section 9 ASiG).


  • As part of the deregulation and standardization of state and trade association regulations , companies are given more scope for decision-making: More and more occupational safety goals are specified, but not the details of implementation. The entrepreneurs are obliged to make their decisions comprehensible and to document them. This is because the extended scope for decision-making is associated with the risk of organizational fault: at the latest after a negative event (accident, work-related illness, occupational disease), the accident insurance institution and, in most cases, a court will examine whether the occupational safety measures were sufficient. As a result, the demands on the quality of company medical advice have increased.
  • The working time of the company doctor depends on the number of employees and the stresses they are exposed to in their work ( hazard classes ). The minimum employment times are specified to the employer by the responsible statutory accident insurance institution (see in particular regulation DGUV V2 of the respective trade association).
  • The company doctor - apart from his own employees in the company medical department - has no authority to issue instructions to other company employees. This gives rise to liability limited to the accuracy of the advice. The responsibility for the implementation of occupational safety remains with the company, who can partially delegate it to employees with authority (transfer of company duties).
  • Like every doctor, the company doctor is also subject to medical confidentiality . This applies to everyone, including the employer, without any restriction. Notifications to the employer must be limited to those statements that are required to meet legal requirements (e.g. in the case of mandatory health care according to the ArbMedVV) or require the consent of the person concerned.
  • The company doctor is not subject to instructions in exercising his specialist knowledge.
  • In order to carry out preventive occupational health care, the doctor must be authorized to use the field designation "occupational medicine" or the additional designation "industrial medicine". In the case of doctors in further training, the trainer is responsible for countersigning the examinations.
  • Shortage of company doctors: 53 percent of all company doctors are 60 years or older. That is why it is important to make occupational medicine more attractive to the next generation. In 2014, the action alliance for young professionals in occupational medicine was founded as part of the DGAUM annual conference. The aims of the action alliance include the procurement and allocation of funds for the promotion of young people in occupational medicine. In 2015, the occupational medicine and company medical service of ASAM praevent GmbH, Institute for Occupational Safety, Occupational Medicine and Prevention in Munich became the first academic teaching practice for occupational medicine in Germany. The Central German Institute for Occupational Medicine in Leipzig followed in 2016. The teaching practices combine university research and teaching with practical occupational medical activities.

Company doctor in Austria

The company doctor is prescribed in Austria by the Employee Protection Act (ASchG). The designation in Austria is Arbeitsmediziner (AM).


In the ASchG, the tasks are laid down in Section 81:

Occupational physicians have the task of advising employers, employees, safety representatives and staff bodies in the field of health protection, health promotion related to working conditions and humane work design and supporting employers in fulfilling their duties in these areas.

Employers must consult the occupational physicians and, if necessary, other suitable specialists:

  1. in all questions of maintaining and promoting health at work and the prevention of work-related illnesses,
  2. when planning workplaces,
  3. when purchasing or changing work equipment,
  4. when introducing or changing work processes and materials,
  5. when testing and selecting personal protective equipment,
  6. in work physiological, work psychological and other ergonomic and industrial hygiene issues, in particular the work rhythm, working time and break regulations, the design of workplaces and work processes,
  7. in the organization of first aid,
  8. in questions of changing jobs as well as the integration and reintegration of disabled people in the work process,
  9. in the identification and assessment of hazards,
  10. in the definition of measures to prevent danger,
  11. in the organization of the instruction and in the creation of operating instructions and
  12. in administrative procedures as defined in Section 8.


In Section 82 of the ASchG, the activities are listed:

  1. advising and supporting the employer in matters pursuant to Section 81 (3),
  2. advising employees, safety representatives and staff bodies on matters of health protection, health promotion related to working conditions and humane work design,
  3. the inspection of workplaces, construction sites and external workplaces as well as participation in inspections by the labor inspectorate,
  4. the determination and investigation of the causes of work-related illnesses and health hazards as well as the evaluation of these investigations and examinations,
  5. the review and adaptation of the identification and assessment of the hazards and the specified measures required according to the employee protection regulations, including adaptation of the safety and health protection documents,
  6. the occupational medical examination of employees up to a maximum of 20% of the annual prevention time set for them,
  7. the implementation of protective vaccinations related to the work of the employees,
  8. continuing education up to a maximum of 15% of the annual prevention time set for you,
  9. the activity within the framework of the occupational safety committee and the central occupational safety committee,
  10. the documentation of the activities and the results of examinations as well as the preparation of reports and programs in the field of health protection and health promotion and
  11. the coordination of the activities of several occupational physicians.

Operating times

In workplaces with up to 50 employees, preventive care must take place in the form of inspections that

  • for 1 to 10 employees at least every 2 years and
  • are to be carried out at least annually for 11 to 50 employees, whereby these inspections should, if possible, be carried out jointly by the occupational health and safety specialist

In workplaces with more than 50 employees, specialists for occupational safety and AM must be employed at least to the extent of the prevention time regulated in § 82a ASchG.

  • This is 1.2 hours per calendar year and AN for office workplaces
  • and for other workplaces 1.5 hours.

There is a surcharge for night work. The SFK has to fulfill at least 40% of the calculated operating time. The occupational physician must meet 35%, the remaining 25% must be divided individually between all preventive specialists.

The operating times of the company doctor have been specified in DGUV2 since 2011 (Annex 2.2)

Basic support

The basic care has three care groups, for each of which fixed working times apply as total values ​​for the company doctor and specialist for occupational safety. The establishments are

assigned to the care groups according to section 4 via their respective operating mode. For basic support, depending on the assignment to one of the three groups, the following deployment time is in

Hours required per employee and year:

Group I 2.5 working hours in hours / year per employee

Group II 1.5 working hours in hours / year per employee

Group III 0.5 working time in hours / year per employee

When dividing the times between company doctors and occupational safety specialists, a minimum share of 20% of the basic care, but not less than 0.2 hours / year per employee, is to be set for each service provider.

The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) maintains a complete list of the division of employees into the three groups with details of all accident insurance carriers.

Company doctor in other countries

There are comparable qualifications in the following European countries: Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain (United Kingdom), Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Iceland, Norway. In the EU, specialist training must last at least four years.

In the USA, qualifications and quality assurance in occupational and environmental medicine are carried out by the medical association American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) , as is common practice there for medical work. A detailed curriculum is mandatory for recognition by the ACOEM .

Special terms

For special companies, the company doctor is generally abbreviated as "company + doctor", for example post doctor . However, the term railway doctor is ambiguous ; a “railway doctor” can work for a company like Deutsche Bahn , but also in sports, for example the competition doctor at a six-day race .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ordinance on preventive occupational medicine (ArbMedVV)
  2. Ordinance on Working in Compressed Air (Compressed Air Ordinance)
  3. Sample course book for occupational medicine / industrial medicine, 2nd edition (PDF; 666 kB) Federal Medical Association. May 18, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  4. Our offspring is our future! . Archived from the original on April 10, 2016. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved April 10, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ASAM praevent: First academic teaching practice for occupational medicine in Germany .
  6. Academic teaching practice .