On 10 August 2020, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (‘BMAS’) announced a new Covid-19 occupational health and safety rule. The new rule supplements the Covid-19 occupational health and safety standard that was previously published in April.
The purpose of the new occupational health and safety rule is to provide employers with a ‘state of the art’: if employers implement the technical, organisational and personal measures proposed in this rule, they can assume that they are acting in a legally compliant manner.
Content of the new occupational health and safety rule
The new BMAS rule is 23 pages long and is divided into a general and a special section. The first, general part describes the scope of application of the rule and provides definitions. It also points out employers’ obligation to review their existing risk assessment and occupational health and safety measures against the background of the epidemic and the BMAS health and safety standard published in April, and to update them if necessary.
The general section also includes fourteen protective measures described in detail, including the following:
The new rule continues to refer to the minimum distance of 1.5 meters between persons. This distance can be maintained by modifying the furniture, including partitions, and by using other suitable rooms. In this context it is interesting to note that so-called ‘short-term contacts’ are excluded from this. In the definitions, a short-term contact is described as a face-to-face contact between two persons, which lasts less than 15 minutes in total. According to the current state of knowledge and the latest information provided by the Robert Koch Institute, such short-term contacts present only minor risks of infection.