"Zero tolerance for violence against emergency services personnel" - this is what the General Meeting of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) has demanded in a resolution. The self-governing body of the German social accident insurance is thus taking a stand against all forms of violence against fire and rescue personnel. In addition to the challenging accident and rescue situations, they are increasingly burdened by verbal and physical attacks, according to the statement. A survey of more than 1,300 volunteer firefighters conducted by the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the Fire Services in Lower Saxony showed that about a third of respondents had been affected by violence while on duty. "Insults, verbal abuse, threats, coercion or physical attacks on employees and volunteers are unacceptable," the resolution states.
The resolution is accompanied by the DGUV's national campaign #GewaltAngehen (FightViolence). It will be launched on 5 December 2023, Volunteers' Day. Six volunteers from fire brigades and aid organisations will make personal statements in support of the common cause: More respect, more support from society and non-violent interaction. The campaign motifs can be seen on social media and at bus stops in a number of major cities.
Violence - whether physical assault or verbal abuse - is no longer just a problem for emergency services. A total of more than 14,000 notifiable violence-related accidents at work or during voluntary work were reported to the German social accident insurance institutions in 2022. Employees in all sectors were affected.
"The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs fully supports the #GewaltAngehen campaign," said Lilian Tschan, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), at the campaign launch on 5 December in Berlin. "As BMAS, we welcome any initiative that helps to prevent violence at work. And by ratifying ILO Convention No. 190, Germany has underlined that everyone has the right to a working environment free of violence and harassment," State Secretary Tschan continued.
"Violence at work - from verbal abuse to physical assault - affects the safety and health of those affected. That's why the German social accident insurance is taking a clear stance: zero tolerance for any kind of violence," emphasised Dr Stefan Hussy, DGUV Director General: "With this campaign, we want to appeal to all people in the country to contribute to respectful interaction at work or in voluntary work through their behaviour.
The German social accident insurance institutions offer their member companies a wide range of materials to help prevent violence in advance. If an assault does occur, it can be reported as an accident at work. Accident insurance will then cover the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation and, where appropriate, a pension.
You can find out more about the campaign and information on violence prevention on the #GewaltAngehen website (in German).