Risk assessment: The Duty for Every Employer

Risk Assessment identifies and evaluates the hazards for employees and serves as basis for health & safety measures.

risk assessment - duty for every employer

The risk assessment comprises the identification and evaluation of hazards for employees. It serves as the basis for individual occupational health and safety measures. These are mandatory for every employer according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act or ArbSchG.

What Are the Types?

There are basically different types of assessment. These consider different aspects of an activity.

  • Psychological hazards
    • Psychological risk assessment involves determining the extent to which there is a risk of the employee becoming mentally ill because of his or her work.
  • Physical, chemical and biological hazards
    • Mechanical hazards
    • Radiation hazards
    • Hazards due to working materials
  • In the office
    • The assessment for an office workplace focuses, for example, on optimal lighting conditions or an ergonomic seat.
  • During pregnancy
    • According to § 10 of the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG), the employee must ensure that pregnant women are still able to perform their work. Every workplace must be checked to determine whether it has any harmful effects on a pregnant employee.
    • As part of the maternity protection risk assessment, the employer must pay particular attention to certain activities. For example, lifting heavy loads or working on scaffolding is prohibited during pregnancy.
  • Corona – Pandemic
    • In the Corona risk assessment, the employer must ensure, for example, that employees are adequately protected against infection.

Process Steps and Content of a Risk Assessment

The scope and content are to be defined individually by the respective company working conditions. The focus must always be on ensuring employee health. The assessment first includes all possible hazards to which an employee is exposed. The employer then determines how likely damage is because of the individual conditions. In addition, the employer determines specific measures to prevent harm.

7 Steps to Risk Assessment

  1. Record work areas and activities
  2. Determination of hazards
  3. Assessing the hazards
  4. Determination of protective measures
  5. Implementation of the measures
  6. Checking the effectiveness of the measures
  7. Documenting and updating

Circumstances Not Determined

The risk assessment only records hazards and not dangers. In contrast to a hazard, a danger refers to a possible damage. A hazard, on the other hand, is most likely to lead to damage.

Obligation to Carry Out and Update

According to § 5 para. 1 ArbSchG, every employer is basically obliged to carry out a risk assessment. Often, an update of the risk assessment is prescribed at certain intervals.

Updating is mandatory in three cases:

  1. After occupational accidents or work-related health impairments,
  2. when new workplaces are set up, and in the event of significant changes in the company.
  3. The latter includes, for example, the procurement of new machinery or changes in production methods.

Timing of the Risk Assessment

The risk assessment must be carried out by the employer before the employee starts work. This ensures that safe work is possible right from the start.

Works Council

The works council has a full right of co-determination in the preparation of risk assessments and the measures to be derived from them as well as effectiveness checks.


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