Accident prevention regulations

16. May 2021 | By Tim Ruhoff

The topic of occupational health and safety is of great importance. In order to regulate these areas for the protection of employees, numerous regulations have been issued by the German Social Accident Insurance, which employers and employees must adhere to, otherwise there is a risk of serious consequences. The following will discuss which occupational health and safety regulations must be observed within the framework of fleet management, who is responsible and what the consequences are in the event of a breach.

Definition of accident prevention regulations

Accident prevention regulations (UVV) are issued by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). They deal with the topics of occupational safety and health protection in the workplace. The issued DGUV regulations are legally binding and the rules and obligations described therein are to be observed by employers and the insured persons.

What are accident prevention regulations?

The accident prevention regulations are rules and guidelines for the safety and health protection of employees in the company and at the workplace. There are 84 UVV regulations in total. The rules are linked to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, so that they must also be implemented on a mandatory basis. The aim of the UVV regulations is prevention. Hazards in the workplace are to be prevented, occupational accidents avoided and occupational illnesses prevented.

The protective measures defined in the UVV regulations for the workplace and the company are very far-reaching. For example, companies are prescribed which occupational health measures and examinations they must offer. These include, for example, the training of first aiders in a specified number to be able to ensure rapid on-site assistance.

Accident prevention regulations in the vehicle fleet

In addition to the general accident prevention regulations that apply to all companies, there are also special accident prevention regulations for company vehicles. If employees have to drive a vehicle for work-related reasons, this constitutes part of their workplace, as the vehicle is assessed as work equipment. As with any other work equipment, for example the operation of a machine, employees must be instructed in the use of the vehicle. This relates on the one hand to the initial instruction when using the vehicle for the first time and its annual repetition.

Duties of the fleet manager

The implementation of the UVV regulations is first of all the duty of the employer. However, the employer has the option of delegating these duties. The UVV regulations relating to the vehicle fleet can therefore also be delegated to the fleet manager. However, it remains the employer's responsibility to regularly monitor the fleet manager to ensure that he or she is performing his or her work conscientiously. Thus, the employer cannot delegate 100 percent of his responsibility. Due to the possibility of delegation of the UVV regulations, the fleet manager can carry out the instruction of the employees in the handling of the vehicles and instruct them about the dangers as well as a professional handling. This instruction of the employees has to take place before the first journey and has to be repeated annually.

The type of vehicle is also irrelevant for the instruction. As soon as a vehicle can drive more than 8 kilometers per hour, the accident prevention regulations apply. It does not matter whether it is a passenger car or a forklift truck. This means that the fleet manager must also instruct the employees and repeat the training annually. It is irrelevant whether the vehicle has been directly assigned to an employee or whether it is a pool vehicle. For each vehicle, there is an obligation to carry out this instruction in accordance with the UVV regulations.

Duties of the driver

However, the UVV regulations not only contain obligations for the fleet manager, but also for the drivers. According to § 36 part. 1 of regulation 70, the driver is obliged to check his vehicle for defects and damage before driving off. To this end, the driver must check whether the lights are working and the tires are in order. The levels of engine oil, fuel and coolant must also be checked. The check also includes whether the first-aid kit, the warning triangle and the high-visibility vest are in the vehicle and in working order. Checklists can be used for such an inspection to ensure that no checkpoint is forgotten and at the same time documentation is provided as proof.

The driver must check the vehicle, regardless of whether it is his own company car or a pool vehicle.

Inspection by a qualified person

All commercially used vehicles must be inspected once a year to ensure that they are in a safe condition for work and operation. In accordance with the accident prevention regulations, the inspection must be carried out by a person who is qualified to do so through training. The expert must be familiar with the current accident prevention regulations and have knowledge of the technical requirements, standards and guidelines. The expert may be qualified to do this internally or the vehicles may be inspected by an external expert. In the case of large fleets in particular, it is advisable to train an employee internally to become an expert. Small and medium-sized companies can have the inspection carried out by external experts. This service is offered by car dealerships, workshops or the TÜV.

Proof of UVV inspection

Every UVV inspection that has been carried out must be documented. This is the only way to prove during an inspection that occupational safety at the workplace has been observed. The proof is provided by means of an inspection report. This inspection report must list all the measures taken to comply with the UVV regulations. In this way, the inspection report immediately serves as a checklist to assist in carrying out the inspection. What exactly the inspection report must contain depends on the respective vehicle and the place of use. The inspection report must be accepted by the fleet manager and checked by the company.

Delegation of responsibilities

The implementation and control of the UVV regulations is the responsibility of the employer. However, it is unrealistic for the employer to be able to inspect all vehicles and ensure that the UVV regulations are complied with. Therefore, the employer may delegate this responsibility to a third party. This mainly concerns the instruction of the drivers. In most cases, the employer delegates the control of compliance with the UVV regulations to the fleet manager. Theoretically, however, it is also possible to assign any other employee. It is important that the employer selects the person carefully. To this end, he must observe the conditions listed in Section 13 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act:

-The appointed person must be reliable
-The appointed person must have the necessary technical expertise
-The person must be instructed in writing to comply with the UVV regulations.

If the employer has delegated the responsibility of the UVV regulations to a third party, this person must fear legal consequences if an accident occurs. At that moment, it is important that the assigned person can prove that he or she has complied with the UVV regulations.

The employer can thus pass on his liability risk for non-compliance with the UVV regulations to the commissioned person.

Consequences of disregarding the accident prevention regulations

The accident prevention regulations must be strictly observed. The employers' liability insurance associations regularly check whether the UVV regulations are implemented and monitored. Examples of consequences due to non-compliance with UVV regulations range from fines to imprisonment. The employer or the fleet manager may face fines of up to 10,000 euros for a violation of the UVV regulations. In severe circumstances, they may even face imprisonment. This is the case if the employer endangers the life or health of the employee through intentional behavior or if the employer persistently repeats a violation of the UVV regulations.

Another consequence of disregarding the UVV regulations is that the statutory accident insurance does not assume liability and can withdraw from its insurance obligation. This is also possible if the worker has no proof that, for example, the driver instruction was carried out regularly. This is why documentation in a log is so important.

Care must also be taken when selecting the person in charge. If the employer hands over responsibility for compliance with and implementation of the UVV regulations to a person who is not professionally qualified to do so, there is even the threat of fines of 1 million euros.

However, employees must also comply with the UVV regulations. If, for example, a driver does not check the vehicle before setting off, this can have consequences under labor law ranging from a warning to a warning. In the event of serious or persistent violations of the UVV regulations, the driver may even be dismissed.

Conclusion

Accident prevention regulations are also of great importance in the area of fleet management. The aim is to ensure the occupational health and safety of employees through the proper use of vehicles. To this end, there are numerous UVV regulations that clearly define the obligations for employers and employees. These UVV regulations should also be observed and implemented without fail, as there are consequences for both the employer and the employee in the event of a violation.