Establishing a risk observatory for the German social accident insurance institutions (RIBEO)

Project No. IFA 0094


completed 11/2011


At workplaces, and also in children's daycare facilities, schools and institutions of higher education, new risks to individuals insured by the German Social Accident Insurance are continually emerging. These new risks present new challenges to occupational safety and health. The IFA, one of the institutes of the German Social Accident Insurance, assists the individual statutory accident insurance institutions in using their financial and personnel resources efficiently, discerningly and responsibly. Since 2002, the IFA has participated in literature surveys and consultations of experts at European level for the purpose of identifying trends of economic, social, demographic and technical origin which give rise to new risks associated with insured activities. Examples of such trends are: the increasing use of nanotechnology; diminishing job security and an increase in precarious working arrangements; growing performance pressure in education and training; and increasing intercultural and linguistic challenges during insured activities. In the future, the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions will also benefit from these surveys at European level. Specifically, a risk observatory geared to their specific needs is to be created. The risk observatory will be set up and maintained by the IFA. It will identify national trends and trend-driven risks to insured individuals. Cross-sector and sector-specific aspects of prevention can then be identified, targeted prevention measures launched, and the corresponding resources budgeted for. For specific sectors and the accident insurance institutions serving them, the IFA is to identify the top ten relevant trends, the resulting risks to safety and health, and where they already exist, successful prevention strategies. These results are to be presented to the accident insurance institutions in workshops with the involvement of the prevention managers, and discussed with them.


The objective of the project was the creation of the risk observatory, particularly the development of a survey instrument suitable for it. For this purpose, the IFA first identified the developments which have already been assessed throughout Europe as being relevant to OSH. These developments were identified from the results of the four surveys of experts conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) concerning physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial risks, and surveys of new and emerging risks conducted within the Partnership for European Research in Occupational Safety and Health (PEROSH). The developments observed were then referenced to global trends. OSH experts with the best possible knowledge of the field, ideally labour inspectors, are in future to assess the developments associated with the global trends, with regard both to their relevance to the safety and health of insured individuals, and to suitable prevention measures. A user-friendly online questionnaire was to be developed for use as the survey instrument. This questionnaire has been developed with the close co-operation of labour inspectors at the accident insurance institutions. A pilot version of the questionnaire has also been examined for its practical suitability in a test phase involving experts from the institutions.
The random sample of labour inspectors to be consulted at each accident insurance institution was defined with consideration for the structure of the insured individuals and the inspection capacities of the individual institutions, such as to enable the results to be interpreted on sectoral lines. For organizational reasons, the accident insurance institutions have been divided into three groups (clusters) for the survey. The clusters are to be surveyed at different points in time, beginning in 2012 with the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector. The prevention managers have been contacted for selection of the experts at the accident insurance institutions who are to be consulted in the first cluster.


Based upon surveys of experts conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the Partnership for European Research in Occupational Safety and Health (PEROSH) into new and emerging OSH risks, relevant trends and developments were identified, supplemented with topics of national interest and of relevance to the statutory accident insurance institutions, and used to develop the content of a questionnaire. The questionnaire addresses developments associated with eight global trends: new technologies, new substances and products presenting health risks, the growing relevance of physical hazards, globalization and changes to the world of work and education, development of the service economy, demographic change, disasters, and unhealthy lifestyles. Each global trend is associated with between four and eleven precise developments. Further relevant developments can be added by way of freeform text. The survey participants provide two prognoses of each development for the coming five years: with regard to the relevance for the companies/institutions for which they are responsible, and for the OSH risks associated with the developments concerned. For each development, the survey then requests three primary prevention instruments which are to be used to combat the risks. A working group made up of representatives of the accident insurance institutions was involved in producing the questionnaire and testing its usability. The IAG supported technical implementation of the online questionnaire.
The three survey clusters identified were selected such that the results for related sectors can be interpreted together. The German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector are to be consulted in the first cluster; those for trade and industry in two further clusters. The size of the random sample has been defined: for the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector in the first cluster, 35% of the labour inspectors, a total of 115 persons, are to be consulted. Approximately 30 persons in each sector are to be consulted in the two clusters for the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for trade and industry.
SPSS routines have also been developed for interpretation of the results of the online surveys. The SPSS interpretations will be used to identify the top ten developments and to determine which of these important developments present a need for action. The risk observatory will then be able to enter the operative phase from 2012 onwards.

Last Update:

10 Jan 2012


Research institution(s):
  • BG-übergreifend
  • UK-übergreifend

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards


risk assessment

Description, key words:

risk assessment, prevention, risk, emerging risks, trend, development, German Social Accident Insurance Institution, changes in the world of work