Risk assessment

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The flow chart of the risk assessment in occupational safety as a cycle of action .

The risk assessment describes the process of systematically determining and evaluating all relevant hazards to which employees are exposed in the course of their professional activity. In addition, there is the derivation and implementation of all measures required to protect safety and health, which then have to be checked for their effectiveness. The aim is to identify hazards at work at an early stage and to counteract them preventively, i.e. before health impairments or accidents occur.

The risk assessment for workplaces, jobs, working and production methods, work processes and working hours among other things based on §§ 5, 6 Industrial Safety Act and workplace regulations as a result of implementation of European framework guidelines for occupational health and safety (1989 and 1992), § 3 Ordinance on Industrial Safety , § 6 Hazardous Substances Ordinance , § § 89, 90 Works Constitution Act . In Austria, when assigning tasks to employees, employers must take into account their suitability in terms of safety and health ( Section 6 Employee Protection Act ).

Significance for occupational safety regulations

Various other occupational health and safety regulations are based on the aforementioned laws and ordinances and require the preparation of risk assessments. For example, according to Section 3 of the Ordinance on Occupational Health Care (ArbMedVV), the employer "has to ensure appropriate occupational health care based on the risk assessment ". Furthermore, according to Section 3, Paragraph 1, Clause 3 of the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV), the employer is obliged to “ determine and assess the safety and health conditions, particularly with regard to a possible risk to eyesight as well as physical problems and psychological stress ”.

A great deal of information from the trade association contains instructions or templates for risk assessments.

Based on the ISO 45001 standard , the risk assessment can be divided into the identification of hazards and the subsequent evaluation of risks and opportunities .


The Federal Labor Court ruled on August 12, 2008: “Section 5 ArbSchG does not primarily serve to prevent immediate health risks. Rather, through the risk assessment, hazards are identified in advance, which may have to be countered by appropriate measures ”. Risk assessments do not assess hazards, but hazards: "In contrast to danger, the term hazard describes the possibility of harm or impairment to health without specific requirements regarding its extent or probability of occurrence." With this assessment, "health protection begins as the." physical and mental and psychological integrity of the worker ”.


Risks in terms of occupational safety occur earlier than dangers. “In the area of ​​occupational safety and health, a danger is understood to be a situation which, if the objectively expected events proceed unhindered, will lead to damage. The occurrence of damage must be based on a sufficient probability. Which degree of probability is sufficient is to be determined taking into account the principle of proportionality according to the type of legal interests concerned. In occupational safety, which is about the life and health of workers, a lower degree of probability is sufficient than in the case of a risk to property. "

Scope of the employer

In Section 3 of the Industrial Safety Ordinance , the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances and the Ordinance on Biological Agents , risk assessments have been taken up and anchored. As part of the liberalization of occupational safety, the employer is to be given greater leeway to meet the requirements of occupational safety ("operator responsibility"). The withdrawal and standardization of regulations, for example many individual accident prevention regulations of the accident insurance carriers, contribute to this. Instead of detailed regulation, the employer is now required to carry out a risk assessment in which he has to prove that he has fulfilled his duty of care with regard to work equipment or hazardous substances in a legally comprehensible manner. The legislature has refrained from introducing limit criteria that define a minimum level of protection, as previously did the accident prevention regulations of the accident insurance institutions.

The employer or persons commissioned and qualified by him in accordance with Section 7 ArbSchG must, in principle, assess the working conditions, minimize hazards and implement measures for improvement before starting work and at sufficient intervals . He should be supported by experts, in particular a specialist in occupational safety , a fire protection officer and a company doctor. They often face the problem of answering the question of the frequency of interventions / activities when assessing the risks.

The following definitions are generally recognized:

  • Often = regular intervention in a production process, regardless of the number, but more than 1 × / month (e.g. regular maintenance, sampling, regular troubleshooting). In the Technical Rule for Operational Safety 2152, the term “often” is defined differently for explosion protection (more than 50% of the operating time).
  • Occasional = regular intervention, a maximum of 1 × / month (e.g. expected disturbances)
  • Rarely = actually never, but a maximum of 2 × / year (e.g. unexpected malfunctions)

Occasions for a risk assessment

In each of the listed regulations it is stipulated that the risk assessment must be documented before the start of the activity. This corresponds to the prevention concept of occupational safety, namely to exclude hazards for employees from the outset or to minimize them as much as possible so that safe work is possible from the start.

The risk assessment must be checked at regular intervals and updated if necessary. The risk assessment must be updated immediately, especially if the operational conditions with regard to safety and health protection have changed. These can be, for example, new working materials, work processes, work equipment or work processes, changes in the workplace or accidents, references to known loads or new regulations.

The time intervals after which the risk assessment must be checked are not always prescribed and in this case are determined by the employer. For example, a risk assessment for biological agents according to § 4 BioStoffV requires a review every two years. This check must be documented, even if there is no update.

There are also special requirements for the risk assessment according to the MuSchG. This must be done regardless of the occasion, i.e. before a pregnant or breastfeeding woman even carries out the activity. Immediately after a pregnancy has been reported, the risk assessment must then be checked and it must be determined whether protective measures are required, whether a redesign of the working conditions enables safe work or whether the mother-to-be can no longer work at this workplace. The employer may only let the pregnant or breastfeeding woman carry out her work once the necessary protective measures have been implemented.

Co-determination of the works council

The leeway afforded by occupational health and safety law gives works councils a full right of co-determination in the preparation of risk assessments (Federal Labor Court of June 8, 2004, 1 ABR 13/03 and 04/03) as well as the measures and effectiveness controls to be derived from this. According to the BAG, this right of co-determination in the risk assessment “does not require that a specific health risk can already be determined”. Works councils must also be involved "if no specific health risk can be identified and the measures to be taken by the employer only indirectly serve health protection."

Co-determination obligation

When assessing risk, the works council not only has a right to co-determination, but an obligation to co-determination, which the Federal Labor Court referred to twice in its judgment of August 12, 2008:

  • "In addition, the works council in filling out the discretion of the employer according to § 87 para. 1 no. 7 WCA has a say . This is intended to achieve the most efficient implementation of statutory occupational safety in the company in the interests of the employees concerned. "
  • " Section 5 (1) ArbSchG grants the employer leeway in making this assessment. The works council has to have a say in its completion according to § 87 Abs 1 Nr 7 BetrVG . The individual employee cannot therefore demand that the risk assessment be carried out according to certain criteria specified by him. "

Works councils cannot agree with employers to waive the creation of such assessments, because the obligation to prepare them is essential .

Workers' rights

According to the EU Directive of the Council of the European Community (89/391 / EEC), the employee has the following rights: Article 11 Consultation and participation of employees

(1) The employers listen to the employees or their representatives and enable them to participate in all questions relating to safety and health at work. This includes: - The consultation of the workers; - The right of employees or their representatives to make suggestions; - The balanced participation according to national legislation. (2) ff. (3) The employee representatives with a special function in the safety and health protection of employees have the right to request the employer to take suitable measures and to submit suggestions in this regard in order to prevent any danger to the employees and / or switch off the source of danger.

Catalog of hazards

The catalog of the hazards to be determined from § 5 ArbSchG is broad. Accordingly, a hazard can arise in particular through:

  • 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 as well as how they are handled,
  • the design of work and manufacturing processes, work processes and working hours and their interaction,
  • Inadequate qualifications and training of employees,
  • mental stress

surrendered at work.

In experimental lessons in schools, according to RiSU Part I, Section 3.2.2, a written risk assessment must be available for each teaching experiment . For the sake of simplicity, each individual lesson does not have to be re-assessed; it is sufficient to use existing assessments of standard experiments that may have been created by third parties. By assessing the hazards associated with the work, it should be checked whether and, if so, which occupational safety measures are required. These are to be checked for their effectiveness and, if necessary, adapted to the changing circumstances ( § 3 ArbSchG). In general, some general principles must be taken into account when planning and implementing change measures: For example, the work must be designed in such a way that a risk to life as well as physical and mental health is avoided as far as possible and the remaining risk is kept as low as possible ( Section 4 ArbSchG ).

The consideration of psychological stress has only become an integral part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and therefore of the risk assessment since the end of June 2013.

A list of the hazards and help is available from the accident insurance institutions , the trade supervisory authority , the trade unions and the works councils . Various aids support companies in risk assessment. This includes the recommendations for risk assessment by the accident insurance institutions (EGU), which are particularly helpful when dealing with hazardous substances . There is also software that supports risk assessments. As an online tool , the GESTIS-Stoffenmanager offers help with the start of the risk assessment.

An important aid for designers and employers or their safety specialists in determining the risk to machine safety is, among other things, EN ISO 12100 Safety of machines - General principles for design - Risk assessment and risk reduction. The standard is valid in Germany as DIN standard DIN EN ISO 12100. In order to minimize the manufacturer's product liability , the remaining risks and their avoidance are mentioned in safety notices , warnings and on product safety labels .

The key indicator method can be used to determine the risk of physical workload when lifting, holding, carrying, pulling and pushing loads .

Special feature: Mental integrity of the employee - risk assessment of mental stress

According to a ruling by the Federal Labor Court, the “ mental and psychological integrity of the employee” is a goal of the risk assessment. The employer has a wide margin of discretion in the specific implementation. The employee cannot demand a certain format, such as special consideration of psychological stress.

In addition, there was an amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 2013. According to this, risks can also arise from mental stress at work and must consequently be determined and assessed as part of the operational risk assessment (amendment § 5 ArbSchG).

One reason for the inadequate implementation of risk assessments, particularly with regard to psychological stress, is, among other things, a lack of official supervision. In addition, in contrast to the risk assessment in technical occupational safety, there is the methodologically more demanding determination and assessment of hazards as well as the fear of possible stigmatization of affected employees and responsible persons. This is not the only reason why risk assessment procedures place particular emphasis on communication and support processes for employees and managers.

Basically, it should be noted that the recording and assessment of psychological risk factors should not be used to inquire about the individual psychological situation of the employees. Rather, operational factors such as work organization , excessive or insufficient demands, qualifications , communication , management methods , customer behavior and other factors must be recognized, assessed and designed in a humane manner as possible stress factors .

Frequently, possible stress factors are recorded using questionnaires . However, there is the methodological problem that questionnaires record not only the subjective perception of working conditions but also dissatisfaction with the private life and personality traits of the respondents. This information has nothing to do with the design quality of the work and can therefore lead to distortions in the results. In order to counteract this, it is advisable to use so-called condition-related expert observation procedures. These are structured observation interviews that are carried out at typical workplaces by trained specialists.

The combination of objective and subjective analysis methods as well as the inclusion of the analysis of coping strategies of employees make a decisive contribution to the identification of health risks (e.g. depression, musculoskeletal complaints) in the workplace.

In the context of assessing psychological hazards, the term psychological stress is often used. Its meaning is defined in DIN EN ISO 10075 . In the first part, the negative psychological short-term consequences of inappropriate stress (mental fatigue , monotony , mental satiety and reduced alertness ) are described. The second part contains specific possibilities how such negative short-term consequences can be avoided through a favorable work structure. In the third section methodological requirements for measuring methods, in particular to their reliability ( reliability ) and valid ( validity ) formulated.

In addition to thorough training of the persons entrusted with the analysis, recording the psychological stress also requires careful preparation and follow-up of the entire process.

See also

Test procedures and procedures for recording and assessing psychological stress:


Web links


  1. Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Risk assessment of psychological stress. Experience and recommendations. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-503-15439-5 .
  2. a b c d BAG, judgment of August 12, 2008, 9 AZR 1117/06 .
  3. Federal Labor Court 1 ABR 13/03 . lexetius.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  4. Federal Labor Court 04/03 . lexetius.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  5. Jens Gäbert, Brigitte Maschmann-Schulz: Codetermination in health protection. Shaping work in a humane way. Bund-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-7663-3498-0 .
  6. Experimentas: About. Retrieved March 12, 2018 .
  7. ^ Academy for Teacher Training and Personnel Management, Dillingen / Publications. Retrieved March 12, 2018 (UK English).
  8. Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Statutory Accident Insurance (IFA): Recommendations for risk assessment by the accident insurance institutions (EGU). Retrieved July 12, 2018 .
  9. IG Metall Projekt Gute Arbeit (Ed.): “Gute Arbeit” manual. Practical aids and materials for operational practice. VSA, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89965-255-0 , Chapter 6.3.4: New approaches and instruments for practice.
  10. Bundestag printed paper 17/10026 (PDF; 573 kB), July 3, 2012.
  11. ^ Ingo Weinreich, Christian Weigl: Corporate advice on occupational health protection management. Basics - methods - personal skills. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-503-13057-3 .
  12. a b Checked procedures in a list of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).
  13. a b C. Nebel, S. Wolf, P. Richter in: Dirk Windemuth, Detlev Jung, Olaf Petermann (eds.): Practical handbook on psychological stress in the job . Universum Verlag , Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-89869-227-4 , instruments and methods for measuring psychological stress , p. 261–274 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  14. ^ R. Rau, K. Hoffmann, K. Morling, U. Roesler: Is the connection between workload and depression a result of impaired perception? In: PG Richter, R. Rau, S. Mühlpfordt (Ed.): Work and health. Pabst Science, Lengerich 2007, p. 55 ff.
  15. LL Meier, NK Semmer, A. Elfering, N. Jacobshagen: The double meaning of control: Three way interaction between internal resources, job control, and stressors at work. In: Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 13, 2008, pp. 244-258.