Study of the benefit provided by the testing and certification activity of the Institutions for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention (BGs) for the prevention work of the BGs
Sector: -cross sectoral-
Type of hazard: -various-, mechanical hazards, electrical hazards
Catchwords: prevention, economic efficiency and occupational health and safety, equipment safety
Status: completed 03/2003
Financed by: Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s): Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BIA, Geschäftsstelle BG-PRÜFZERT, Fachausschuss (FA) Verwaltung, FA Tiefbau, FA Steine und Erden, FA Persönliche Schutzausrüstungen, FA Elektrotechnik
Description, key words:
benefit of BG testing and certification activity, prevention work, consultation of customers, assessment by the test bodies themselves, example cases
The prevention activity performed by the BGs is geared in particular to the avoidance of hazards at their source. This is also the first point addressed by the testing and certification activity performed by the BG test and certification bodies. The safety of work equipment is tested before it is used by operators. No reliable studies have been performed to date into the significance of testing and certification for prevention work. The objective of this study was to examine the role of the BGs' testing and certification activity for their prevention work.
The first stage was to analyse the BG's testing and certification activity. The analysis encompassed the full range of testing and certification activity and its relationship to other prevention activity (such as surveillance, consulting and standardization) performed by the BG experts committees and the BGs themselves. For this purpose, questionnaires were sent to all test and certification bodies, their customers, and the heads of the prevention departments, and the results were analysed and documented. An analysis of example cases of selected tests revealed clearly the effects of the testing and certification activity upon prevention activity. Available statistics (prohibition decrees, accident reports) were to be included in the study.
With a return rate of 38% (484 questionnaires) in a survey of manufacturers, 88% in a survey of the prevention managers and 100% in a survey of the BG test bodies, the analysis may be regarded as representative. Overall, the testing and certification activity is primarily seen to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as these account for the majority of customers, and professional participation of test body staff on international standards committees is often the only means by which they can make their voice heard at international level. Consultancy accounts for 21% of the test bodies' activity; together with testing and certification services (39%), it forms the bulk of their business. The fact that 82% of the products are tested before they are distributed is further proof of the decisive influence which test bodies have upon the safety of products. At a time at which the legislative competence for product design is subject almost entirely to European legislation, the test bodies thus make a direct contribution to prevention. This also applies explicitly to the work-related health hazards posed by noise, poor ergonomics, and hazardous emissions. 41% of the customers estimate their market share to be over 70%. The influence of testing and certification thus extends well beyond the actual products tested, as the standard set by the market leaders is followed by other companies. From the perspective of prevention managers, test bodies play a particular role in the design of innovative products, as they open up the markets for these products and thus contribute to quality improvements in occupational health and safety, and also develop regulations and standards governing such products and assist in their establishment at international level. Test bodies' customers wish to see an extension of the chargeable services in the areas of risk analysis, the inspection of subordinate aspects, and the review of instruction handbooks. Excessively long delivery times and high costs were a point of criticism. A need was expressed for consistency in the interpretation of standards.Further informations:
last update: 2.3.2004