General information

Effective occupational safety can only be achieved with the cooperation of all those involved. Adequate information is a prerequisite for active cooperation of employees in reducing or eliminating risks and burdens.

Sufficient and understandable instruction is – as is information for employees – an essential basis for health and safety in the workplace. It must be provided regularly and must be documented. If necessary, the employees must also be provided with written instructions.

Special obligations to provide instructions apply for the following areas, for example:

VDU work

Prior to commencing VDU work and if there are any essential changes to the organisation of your workplace, employees must be instructed in how to use the equipment and with regard to the ergonomically correct adjustment and layout of the work equipment.

Breathing protection

Employees must be instructed in the following in particular:

  • operating conditions
  • handling and maintenance
  • how to correctly put on and take off breathing apparatus
  • functional testing
  • permissible wearing time
  • behaviour in emergencies
  • if need be, necessary measures between the wearing periods
  • and the function of safety and warning devices

Please note

Drills for putting on and taking off breathing apparatus must be held at least every six months. Instruction on checking the function must be repeated during these drills.

Increased fire protection

All employees employed in areas in which conditions require increased fire protection must be instructed in the proper handling of extinguishers.

Meaning of signs

Employers must instruct all employees concerned as to the meaning of warning signs, illuminated signs and acoustic signals as well as speech and hand signals and in the measures to be taken in relation this.

Work equipment

The instruction prior to the first use of agents must at least include:

  • commissioning and use
  • assembly and disassembly if need be
  • remedying faults in the workflow of the work equipment
  • if necessary, setting up the work equipment
  • protective devices intended for the respective purpose
  • necessary protective measures.

The repeated instruction must at least include:

  • protective devices intended for the respective purpose
  • necessary protective measures.

Nail guns

When nail guns are used, the instruction must be carried out annually and, taking into account the operating conditions, the content of the manufacturer’s operating instructions and relevant specialist advice, must include the following in particular:

  • storage of nail guns, bolts and propellants
  • picking up, loading, carrying, handing over and unloading nail guns
  • measures for jams and to remedy cartridge failures
  • information on applying nails to different materials
  • measures for securing the danger area
  • protective equipment to be used.

Biological agents

Written instructions relating to instruction in the use of biological agents must be put up in the workplace and must include the following:

  • the measures laid down for the eventuality of malfunctions or incidents that could lead to a considerable increase in exposure of employees.
  • The protective measures to be observed if biological agents of risk group 3 or 4 are used.

Enterprises affected

Essentially all establishments, apart from agricultural and forestry establishments, administrative departments and federal, province and municipal schools as well as private households

Competent authority

The locally competent labour inspectorate (Arbeitsinspektion  BMAW) German text

Further information

Instruction and information for employees (Arbeitsinspektion  BMAW) German text

Legal bases

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 January 2024

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy

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