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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure DE-2021-1/1970 – measures in Germany

Occupational safety and health inspection act


Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Measure added 15 July 2021 (updated 21 January 2022)

Background information

On 1 January 2021 the Occupational safety and health inspection act came into force as a response to two major issues - poor working and accommodation conditions in the meat processing industry which in 2020 had led to various COVID-19 infection hot spots amongst posted meat workers; insufficient labour inspection activities by the responsible public bodies which became a risk due tot the infection risks the the workplace. Labour inspection is administered by the 16 Laender; with this legislation the federal government now reacted on the decline in workplace inspections.

Remaining provisions address the meat processing sector and prohibit subcontracting (starting 1 January 2021) and temporary agency work (starting 1 April) in slaughtering and other manual activities.

Content of measure

The law aims at raising the number of labour inspections at the workplace by introducing a minimum quota of visits. In 2019, the labour ministers of the 16 federal states had agreed that per year a minimum of 5% of the companies in their states is to be inspected. The 5% shall be reached by 2026 the latest. The Federal Agency for Occupational Safety and Health shall monitor the process. The labour inspection bodies may prioritizes high risk companies. Due to the pandemic particular occupational safety and health standards can be set by government. In the Workplace Ordinance (Arbeitsstättenverordnung) quality standards for the collective accommodations of workers will be specified. A committee composed of the labour ministries of the 16 Laender will l be set up at the federal labour ministry for coordinating the joint efforts.

Use of measure

At the beginning of January 2022, the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia published its first assessment of the Occupational safety and health in inspection act. North-Rhine Westphalia is the most populous federal state in Germany were several meat processing factories are located. The Federal Labour Ministry noted several positive developments since the act took effect: working time recording was now obligatory in the meat industry. A fact that made site check-ups more effective in detecting breaches of the law. In North Rhine-Westphalia 1,000 site check-ups were made in 2021 (leading to the detection of around 2,000 breaches of working time and safety norms). In addition, 53 counselling centres were created in 2021 (offering legal advice to employees regards their labour rights).

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


There is no statutory social dialogue body. Social partners are typically consulted on an ad hoc basis (written and/or verbal commentary).

Views and reactions

The trade unions strongly appreciate the measure; the employers do not react on the labour inspection reforms but on the regulation of the meat processing industry and opposed the draft as too bureaucratic.


  • 22 December 2020: Arbeitsschutzkontrollgesetz (
  • 01 January 2022: First asserssment of the occupation safety and health inspection act (


Eurofound (2021), Occupational safety and health inspection act, measure DE-2021-1/1970 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.