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Covid-19 / Coronavirus: The New SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety Standard

Expanded obligation for employers to provide benefits and to act

In collaboration with employers' and workers' organizations and with the occupational health and safety administrations of the federal states, the German Federal Ministry of Labour (BMAS) has developed an occupational safety standard for handling the corona crisis.

Occupational health and safety measures continue to apply – and during the gradual opening of the economy, they must be expanded to include operational measures to protect against an infection with SARS-CoV-2!

FEDERAL MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THE SARS-COV-2 OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY STANDARD ON 16/04/2020

The paper was also submitted to the German government as a foundation to establish further measures related to fighting the pandemic.

The new occupational safety standard includes occupational health and safety guidelines that go beyond previous regulations. The aim is to slowly revive economic activity in Germany without exposing workers to health risks stemming from the coronavirus.

The 10 Cornerstones of the Occupational Safety Standard

The new standard defines the requirements for an increased infection protection in companies. The employer is under obligation to specify and implement these measures, and to monitor compliance.

All operational measures are to be established with the aim to break any chains of infection and to protect the personnel. The new SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard essentially has the following cornerstones:

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Occupational health and safety measures continue to apply – with added infection protection!

The BMAS emphasizes that the new infection protection measures are to be coordinated in the companies' occupational health and safety committees. The necessary protective measures are based on the risk assessment, which has to be updated periodically with regard to the risk of corona infection.

Prevention – through partnerships with social partners and experts!

Occupational health physicians and occupational safety experts are advising the employer regarding the implementation of the SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard and are providing support with instruction. Employees must be offered additional optional occupational health care, if necessary, over the phone.

Keep a minimum distance of 1.5 m (6 feet)!

Companies must implement the appropriate barriers, markings and access regulations. Where that is not possible, effective alternative measures must be implemented.

Ensure less direct contact in the company and balance the operations!

Work shift changes, breaks or the presence at the office must be balanced in terms of the number of employees present by implementing suitable organizational measures. The shift plan must be designed in a way to minimize the contact between the employees.

Never come to work sick!

Company regulations must be established that enable the rapid clarification of any suspected COVID-19 cases (e.g. under "infection emergency plans"). Employees who show symptoms must be asked to leave the company premises immediately or to stay home.

More protection if direct contact cannot be avoided!

Where a physical separation by protective screens is not possible, employees and anybody else who has access to the work areas (such as customers, service providers) must be provided with nose-mouth coverings.

Enable proper hygiene at all times and everywhere!

Washing facilities or disinfectant dispensers must be set up at the entrance/exit and close to the work areas. The necessary cleaning intervals for jointly used spaces, company vehicles, work equipment and any other contact surfaces must be defined in a cleaning plan.

Risk groups must be offered special protection!

Employees must be offered the option of preventive occupational health care by the occupational health physician, where the company physician also addresses the employees' previous illnesses, preexisting conditions and fears. If the employer becomes aware that a person belongs to a risk group, further protective measures must be taken on an individual basis.

Prepare operational routines in case of infections!

To be able to respond quickly to detected infections, operational routines for pandemic preparedness must be established in order to identify, notify and, if necessary, isolate other potentially infected persons.

Actively communicate protective measures!

The protective measures must be explained to the employees and all information must be made clear and understandable (e.g. also by means of posted notices, markings, etc.). The safety instructions must also include references to compliance with personal and organizational hygiene rules (such as distance rules, "cough and sneeze etiquette", hand hygiene, PPE).

TÜV Rheinland Supports you with the Implementation of the New Occupational Safety Measures:

Consulting

We work with you to implement the legal requirements – tailored to your company.

Expert Information

Useful psychological strategies for your employees on a regular basis.

Podcasts & Webinars

Customer-specific, interdisciplinary support using digital formats.

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...Consulting

Shops, restaurants and hotels are allowed to reopen, companies are resuming production – the following applies to all of them: Infection protection for employees must meet higher standards while the normal occupational health and safety requirements must still be met. The SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard developed by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs provides the framework for these expanded protective measures. Employers are under obligation to define and implement the appropriate measures for their company and to monitor compliance. The solutions are as individual as the companies themselves.

We support you with:

  • Adaptation of your risk assessment to the new SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard.
  • Development of occupational safety and hygiene plans.
  • Implementation of a pandemic plan in order to take the necessary measures in case of confirmed infections and to ensure the continued operation of the company.
  • Compliance with distance regulations in production facilities, in the office, in the staff cafeteria, in break rooms, etc.
  • Preparation of ventilation and cleaning plans.
  • Communication of the protective measures and instruction of employees.
  • Planning of work processes, and establishing whether isolated work is possible or whether the creation of small, fixed teams is necessary.
  • Ergonomic design of home office workplaces.
  • Individual occupational health consultations for your employees.

...Expert Information

The current situation related to the coronavirus pandemic does not only significantly impact the economic situation – it also affects our experiences and behaviors. It triggers uncertainties, questions and fears. With the #gemeinsamdurchdiekrise (together through the crisis) impulse letter by the occupational, industrial and organizational psychologists of AMD TÜV Rheinland, we want to support you and your employees in dealing with these challenges.

We are at the beginning of a marathon – not a sprint. That is why on a regular basis, we would like to share small impulses and tips for everyday life with your employees to help them cope with the current corona situation and the associated changes.

...Podcasts & Webinars

Our experienced industrial psychologists from the occupational health and safety field conduct webinars for your employees and executives. The topics of these webinars are tailored to your requests and needs. Alternatively/Additionally, podcasts can be a useful tool, for example to hold an online health day.

Examples for topics:

  • Dealing with isolation, fears, worries
  • Awareness, work-life-balance
  • Remote management
  • Health-promoting communication

Workshops

Hands-on consulting for senior management.

Hotline

Industrial psychology hotline for employees and executives.

Video consultation

Have a virtual consultation with our occupational health physicians – confidential & secure.

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...Workshops

Senior Management must face challenging questions in a timely manner. Our industrial psychologists advise executives, either in individual consultations or as an entire management team to find practical responses to these questions.

  • How do we deal with staff members who return from quarantine or from a coronavirus infection or from the home office to their workplace? How do we conduct a return-to-work talk?
  • What resources does a manager need for support in advance and what advice is welcome? How can a manager welcome their staff members?
  • As a manager, is it my responsibility to educate/inform employees in a particular or targeted way who are working close to a person who has recovered from the illness?
  • How do I address a violation of safety regulations?
  • What do I need to do to reestablish a productive team when its members interacted only remotely for the past months?

…Hotline

Industrial psychology hotline:

We offer you an industrial psychology hotline to support your employees and executives. Our experienced industrial psychologists understand themselves as guides during these turbulent times. They will be your easily accessible contact persons for support and advice.

Focal points of the consultation can be for example:

  • Workplace-related aspects, such as stress management and time management
  • Adjusting to new formats of work (home office, tele-working, etc.)
  • Work-life-balance and burnout prophylaxis
  • Leadership topics, such as the current "leading at a distance", dealing with fear in the company, healthy leadership, the correct approach/communication during the crisis
  • Conflict management
  • Other personal issues, emergencies and crises

Occupational health hotline

We are now offering an occupational health consultation, where your managers and employees can receive support and assistance with questions surrounding the subject of corona/pandemic in your company environment. We use our advisory competence to assist you with questions arising from the implementation of the BMAS SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard.

...Video consultation

Whether at the office or in your home office – our video consultation offers you a flexible and convenient way to talk online to the TÜV Rheinland occupational health physicians. We are available digitally for consultations in the context of occupational health care, including elective preventive care, as well as occupational health consultations, for example in the context of corporate integration management. Just use your smartphone or PC to access our services.

The TÜV Rheinland occupational health physician will provide you with a private virtual consultation room for your appointment. We use a certified software solution to ensure that your conversation is strictly confidential.

How does the video consultation work?

  • You make an appointment with us as usual.
  • You then will receive a personalized link to your consultation by e-mail.
  • On the day of the appointment, you enter the consultation via your smartphone or PC over the Internet.
  • The occupational health physician will then meet you in your consultation room.

Readiness Check

We help you analyze your status quo.

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PCR Tests in systemically Relevant Areas

PCR Tests in Sstemically Relevant Areas

We offer you the opportunity to perform nasal swabs/throat swabs for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The lab diagnostics are performed in accordance with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Testing according to the recommendations of the RKI may be performed for:

  • Nursing homes and care facilities as well as facilities serving people with impairments and disabilities
  • Health care workers in hospital settings

In addition, and in coordination with the responsible health authority for:

  • Seasonal workers or cross-border workers

TÜV Rheinland as Partner in the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: Your Benefits at a Glance

  • Independent partner
  • Support with ensuring legal certainty
  • Help with ensuring infection protection in your company
  • Practically oriented & systematic approach
  • Cross-industry experience in the successful creation and implementation of concepts
  • Interdisciplinary team of occupational physicians, occupational safety specialists, industrial psychologists and health experts
  • Operating nationwide
  • Extensive international experience

The rules of the SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety standard apply with immediate effect!

Contact our experts now!

Restart safely with TÜV Rheinland. Your partner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We support you, when reopening your businesses after lockdown and help you to deal with new labor protection regulations.

Learn more