Dealing with conflicts of interest

The strict separation between the Commission’s task of presenting scientific facts (risk assessment) and the “utilisation” of this information in the broadest sense – whether in a political, legal, economic or other societal context (risk management) in the ministries – is an essential factor in terms of effective health protection at the workplace. This is why the Commission’s neutrality and independence are especially important. Mechanisms and procedural rules have to be developed and adapted to new circumstances on an ongoing basis.

Comprehensive and effective protection mechanisms to guard against unscientific evaluations are already integrated into the work processes of the MAK Commission. For example, documents are always prepared by the Commission's Scientific Secretariat according to the dual control principle. The derivation of MAK values only takes place after numerous rounds of discussion within the Commission and only once a final, consensual assessment has been arrived at. The multidisciplinary composition of the Commission is another factor that guards against the influence of individual interests. The six-month public comment period in which all results are presented to the public ensures further effective protection from unethical influences.

In addition to this, a “Code of Conduct on Collaboration within the Permanent Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area and its Working Groups” was developed and implemented during the last mandate period. Through this Code of Conduct, the Commission has established rules for handling responsibilities, communication and conflict, as well as setting down specific rights and obligations of Commission members in relation to Commission publications.