Andreas Zapf, Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA)
GDA-ORGAcheck is a tool developed by the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA) which enables companies to evaluate their own internal occupational safety and health (OSH) organisation so that they can specifically identify weaknesses and initiate the necessary improvements. This enables the companies to bring their OSH organisation up to a standard that is compliant with the law and optimised for operation. The benefits of an effective OSH organisation and risk assessment not only manifest themselves in a healthier workforce, but also in higher productivity and less downtime.
The world of work is constantly changing. New challenges can only be successfully faced by companies with a healthy, qualified and motivated workforce. Maintaining and improving healthy working conditions is therefore in the interests of the companies and their employees. A safe and healthy workplace requires a smoothly functioning internal OSH organisation. Experience with OSH management systems has shown, for instance, that improving the quality of the OSH organisation significantly reduces the likelihood of accidents and disruptions to work. However, an internal OSH organisation can only be effective if important health and safety aspects are built into all internal processes and decisions; in other words, they are integrated in the company’s organisational structures. Another essential requirement for safe and healthy workplaces is a high-quality risk assessment. Therefore, as part of its programme for improving the OSH organisation, the Joint Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (GDA) developed GDA-ORGAcheck as an optimised self-assessment tool for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). GDA-ORGAcheck allows companies to systematically analyse the quality of their internal OSH organisation and initiate measures for improvement.
GDA-ORGAcheck is based on the GDA guidelines on OSH organisation and its guidelines on hazard assessment and documentation. These guidelines harmonise the advisory and supervisory activities of the labor inspectorates of the federal states and the prevention services of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for trade and industry and German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector. They define 15 elements of an OSH organisation, which are also represented in GDA-ORGAcheck:
- Responsibility and delegation
- Checking OSH tasks and OSH obligations
- Consulting by occupational physicians and safety professionals, OSH committee
- Competence in occupational safety and health
- Organisation and implementation of risk assessment
- Instruction of employees
- Official operating conditions and directions
- Legal provisions for occupational safety and health
- Representatives / worker’s representatives
- Communication and improvement
- Preventive occupational examinations
- Planning and procurement
- Contractors and suppliers
- Agency workers and employees on temporary contracts
- First aid and emergency measures
For each item, a target has been formulated, which also makes the benefit of it clear to those responsible at the companies. Any action that is required is then formulated in the form of a question. The questions are a “translation” for SMEs of the main questions and assessment criteria in the GDA guidelines on OSH organisation. Users can then judge what action is needed. As in the GDA guidelines or in the hazard evaluation of the risk assessment, this takes place using the traffic light model. In addition to the estimated requirement for action, the online tool and the mobile app suggest specific measures for each item. There are also detailed practical tips from the GDA, which allow the defined actions and measures to be implemented as directly and specifically as possible at the company.
Compared to other OSH tools, GDA-ORGAcheck has the following special features:
- A common standard from the members of the GDA on requirements for systematic OSH for small companies. As well as the traditional OSH institutions, the social partners also worked in consensus on developing the GDA-ORGAcheck.
- Practical implementation of GDA guidelines on OSH organisation and on risk assessment and documentation formulated for OSH experts.
- It is a resource that can not only be used by executives, managers and OSH officers, but by employees as well, and it encourages long-term and systematic thinking and action processes at the company.
- It provides those who advise on OSH, such as occupational safety professionals and occupational physicians with a tool for doing so in a structured manner.
- If they want, companies can take part in a benchmark process, in which they can compare their own OSH organisation with those of other enterprises.
- GDA-ORGAcheck was developed in coordination with the “Good SMEs” management tool of the Initiative New Quality of Work (INQA). This means the systems and structures of the two instruments are harmonised and comparable.
The online tool and the GDA-ORGAcheck-app offer the full functionality, with interactive processing and evaluation forms, benchmarking, additional information, legal principles, tips and practical help. As well as this, GDA-ORGAcheck is available as a brochure.