How not to cripple yourself in the German office. Even routine office work is not without danger. What rules should be followed to avoid losing insurance payments?
The employee decided to take a breath of fresh air at lunch time. Routine practice. But during this walk around the office building, a tree branch fell on his head and damaged his eye. Alternatively, the colleague, knocked against by cable, fell down and threw the working laptop from the table, broke his finger on the leg and the display of the laptop. It happens. Even routine office work is not without danger. According to statistics, approximately 16,000 accidents are recorded annually in German offices. In comparison with the situation in production (that is, in factories, workshops, etc.) this, by the way, is not so much: in 2016, as a whole, Germany recorded almost 880,000 incidents in such enterprises.
Accident: all by the rules
Under German law, all of its employees the employer must insure against accidents (Unfallversicherung) and in case of causing damage (Haftpflichversicherung) at work and on the way from work / to work. The company takes deductions for these insurance policies. In the case of injuries in the workplace, the health insurance company covers the costs of treatment and rehabilitation, and also makes payments to the pension fund. But only if certain conditions were met.
First of all, the employee is obliged to notify the employer about what happened. "If he has lost his ability to work for at least three days, the employer is obliged to report this to the health insurance company," - explains DW Stefan Boltz, a spokesman for the Deutsches Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (German Association of Accident Insurance and Insurance Associations, DGUV). If it is not a cold, namely a trauma, the victim should apply to a trauma doctor who documents this for the health insurance company. In principle, this should be done even with a small cut - just in case. For example, if the wound later inflames and complications arise, then it will be more difficult to explain all this to the insurance.
Injury is considered industrial if it is received in connection with the performance of official duties, which leads to deterioration of the physical or mental health of employee. But not every accident associated with work is insurance. More than once the German courts had to consider the complaints of victims.
For example, if an employee is injured on the road directly to the office (for example, he slipped at a stop and sprained or, God forbid, broke his leg), then in this case there is an insurance cover. If he fell next to the supermarket, terminate which he decided to drop by the way, then the «production» insurance against accidents. This, however, does not apply to those who take their children to kindergarten or school before starting work.
Many German companies allow employees at least once a month to work from home. To do this, the workplace in the apartment must be equipped in accordance with the requirements for protection of labour. In addition, if the employee is sitting at his desk, then he is covered by accident insurance. Therefore, if he jerks his leg up from the table, the employer's insurance will work. But if he went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and stumbled, he cannot count on compensation payments of "industrial" insurance.
With your teapot in the German office
Under the law, the employer is obliged to organize the working space in such a way so that the physical and mental health of the personnel is not affected. For expert assessment of the situation at many large enterprises in Germany there are specialists, responsible for occupational safety. Small firms hire experts from outside.
"We conduct an inspection of premises, first of all, paying attention thereon, whether there are any serious violations of occupational safety, which should be corrected immediately, for example, slippery floors, flammable substances near the source of fire, lack of protection on machinery But such infringements are rare," - explains Gerald Schneider, an industrial safety specialist from B.D.A company, which advises on the safety and health of nearly 300,000 businesses in Germany and other European countries.
"In offices, the main subject of his interest is the cable, and it's no accident: 40 percent of injuries among office staff occur as a result of a fall." The wires stretching from the printer to the outlet through the room are absolute taboo," - the expert said. Checking technical equipment, computers, keyboards are also included in his competence - as well as household appliances. If, for example, a coffee maker withstands a test, then it receives a special sticker. "This does not mean that you cannot put your own coffee machine at work," says Herald Schneider. - It all depends on the employer. In some firms, it can be done, but the device must be checked. Others are allowed to use only service appliances in the common kitchen."
Workplace: how best to sit
Improperly equipped workplaces are another serious problem, the expert points out. A problem, that not all are given due weight. The height of the working surface and seats, the quality of computer monitors, lighting - all this affects the health of employees. Non-compliance leads to problems with posture, back pain and injury. According to the requirements of ergonomics, the height of the table should be from 680 to 760 mm, depending on the growth of the worker. The seat should be such height, that there should be a right angle between the shoulder and forearm, when the hands are on the table.
"Check how you sit," - calls the expert from B.D.A. His second advice: remove all unnecessary from your desk. Mountains of paper do not represent danger, but clutter up the working surface. From time to time, take a break from work. Once per hour should be for five minutes to give the eyes a rest from the monitor. In addition, of course, do not forget to move. For a day, it is recommended to make at least ten thousand steps.