SARS-CoV-2 Occupantional Health and Safety Rule - Consultancy of the Committee of Workplaces for the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Project Details

Description

The German SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) occupational safety rule (AR-CoV-2) specifies the requirements for occupational safety and health for the period of the epidemic situation. The SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety rule is determined and approved by the occupational safety committees of the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs together with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). The SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety rule contains details of the requirements of the regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The rule describes the state of the art, occupational medicine and hygiene as well as other secured occupational science findings in order to inform all stakeholders on e.g. the transmisison paths the virus takes. information of all stakeholders is the pre-condition to engage with employers and employess. The rules describest the occupational safety masures, which the employer must realise according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It also describes how employees should contribute to make the safety rule functioning and enhance the effect of the protection measures. It comprises rules for workplaces at comapnies, home office, for business travels, for worker's domitories, canteens etc.
The occupational safety committees are: Occupational Medicine Committee (AfAMed), Committee for Workplaces (ASTA), Committe for Biological Agents (ABAS), Committee on Work Equipment (ABS).

The rule is was published on the 20 August 2020 (GMBl 2020 S. 484-495 (Nr. 24/2020 vom 20.08.2020).

My role: as a member of the Committe for Workplaces I commented on, revised and approved on the draft of the 'SARS-CoV-2 Occupantional Health and Safety Rule'. I commented on the several drafts, proposed adjustments especially on the part informing employees and employers about the virus, the engagement of all stakeholders required to manage the challenge of SARS CoV-2 (Covid-19), the ventilation part (employee behavioural recommendations and technical solutions) and approved the rule.

Key findings

The approach of this occupational safety and health rule on Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) takes three ways of virus transmission into account:
- via droplets,
- via aerosols and
- via contaminated surfaces.
Based on the evaluation of the Robert-Koch-Institute the importance of ventilation in order to reduce the rsik of Covid-19 infections is pointed out.
Following this approach, not only social distancing, surface desinfection, hand hygiene, face masks are considered as principal measures, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, via windows or by mechanical ventilation, is regarded being a necessary and an efficient measure to diminish the infection risk. Specific advise is given to run mechanical ventilation without recirculation or apply appropriate filtration/treatment of recirculating air. All devices enhancing mixing/cooling/heating of air in rooms without using outdoor fresh air should only be used in rooms used by one person only as such devices enhance spreading the virus, e.g. fans to cool in a warm period. Hand dryers in sanitary rooms which dry based on high air-speed should not be in operation.
The occupational safety rule's great achievement is that it connect technological, organisational and behavioural/personal measures already laid down in existing Rules on Workplaces, e.g. on ventilation of workplaces (natural and mechanical), and shows how these existing rules are useful to manage the SARS-CoV-2 (Covis-19) challenge. In addtion, the new rule complements with addtional information and advice if necessary.



This summary is authored by R.T. Hellwig and reflects her personal view on the German strategy of Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection prevention. As a member of the Committe for Workplaces the author has been involved in commenting, revising and voting on the German 'SARS-CoV-2 Occupantional Health and Safety Rule'.
Short titleCovid-19 Rule
StatusActive
Effective start/end date14/05/2020 → …

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Corona virus
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • occupational health and safety
  • rule
  • workplace
  • ventilation
  • behaviour

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