Work equipment

Statutory regulation

The German Industrial Safety Regulation (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung, BetrSichV) on the provision of work equipment, in its most recent version valid since June 2015, contains occupational health and safety requirements for the use of work equipment and the operation of equipment that requires monitoring from an occupational health and safety perspective. It includes a comprehensive safeguarding strategy applicable to all risks relating to work equipment.
The basic components of this are a standardised risk assessment for the provision and use of work equipment, a standardised health and safety assessment for the operation of equipment that requires monitoring, the latest technology as a significant safety benchmark, as well as minimum requirements for the condition of work equipment, unless already regulated otherwise.


Work equipment is defined under BetrSichV as tools, devices, machines or equipment, as well as equipment that requires monitoring.
The use of work equipment covers every activity undertaken with them. This includes, in particular, assembling and installing, operating, turning on or off or resetting, using, maintaining, cleaning, inspecting, rebuilding, testing, disassembling, transporting and monitoring.
Maintenance is all measures taken as a whole to ensure the equipment is kept in or returned to a safe condition. Primarily, it covers inspection, servicing and repair.

Basic obligations of the employer and protective measures regarding the use of equipment (Section 4 and Section 6 BetrSichV)

The employer must ensure that the work equipment is used safely and that the principles of ergonomics are observed (Appendix 1 BetrSichV).  When using work equipment, employees must be careful to avoid any stresses or strains, or reduce these to a minimum.
Work equipment may only be used after the employer has
1.    carried out a risk assessment,
2.    implemented the resulting protective measures in accordance with the  latest technology,
3.    established that the use of the work equipment is safe in accordance      with the latest technology.
If the risk assessment reveals that risks cannot be prevented through technical protective measures, the employer must implement appropriate organisational and personal protective measures. Technical protective measures take precedence over organisational protective measures, which in turn take precedence over personal protective measures.
As regards the use of work equipment, the employer must incorporate occupational health and safety concerns into the organisation of his/her operations. In doing so, he/she must ensure that all factors relating to the health and safety of the employees, including psychological factors, are taken into account in the way that work is organised, work processes and the work place are arranged, and work equipment is chosen.

The principles of a suitable work design include:

  • adapting work equipment, including its interface with people, to the physical characteristics and skills of the employees, as well as preventing biomechanical strains. In this case, the work environment, the location of access points, the focus of the work equipment, necessary posture, physical movement, distance from the body, required personal safety equipment, as well as the psychological strain on the employees, need to be taken into account
  • ensuring employees have enough room to manoeuvre
  • avoiding operating and monitoring activities that require full and constant attention.

  It must be ensured that:

  • work equipment is set up, assembled and disassembled, tested and maintained and inspected safely and in line with the latest technology, taking into account health and safety-related installation and environmental conditions
  • the required frequency of health and safety checks is observed and
  • all forms of energy and materials used or produced can be safely supplied and discharged.

 If work equipment is used outdoors, care must be taken to ensure it is   used safely irrespective of weather conditions.

Maintaining and altering work equipment

The employer must carry out maintenance work to ensure that the work equipment complies with current health and safety requirements and is kept in a safe condition throughout its useful life.
Maintenance work is to be carried out based on the risk assessment and the manufacturer's instruction manual. Maintenance work must only be carried out by specialist employees commissioned and instructed to do so. This also applies to alterations to work equipment. (Section 10 BetrSichV)

Checking/inspecting work equipment

One of the basic obligations of the employer is to ensure that work equipment that requires inspections is only used if these inspections have been conducted and documented (Section 4).
Where the safety of work equipment is dependent on its assembly conditions, this equipment must be inspected before its first use.

The inspection includes:

  • checking this work equipment is assembled or installed in accordance with regulations and that it functions safely
  • identifying any defects in good time
  • determining whether the technical health and safety measures are effective

[Work equipment affected by changes or unusual events, such as accidents, lack of use for long periods or natural events, must undergo a special inspection]
The inspection rules for certain work equipment can be found in Appendix 3 BetrSichV.
The inspection record for work equipment should include at least information about the:

  • type of inspection
  • scope of inspection and
  • the results

and must be stored at least until the next inspection.
More information on inspection dates, among other things, can be found in Section 14 BetrSichV Paragraph 5.