Operator responsibility – Operator duties

Do you have your operator responsibilities in mind? Are you aware of your operator obligations?

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As an employer and operator of technical plants and buildings, as well as on the basis of concluded contracts, you should take a close look at your safety-relevant obligations for the protection of employees and other persons, and the environment. However, the multitude of regulations and directives at EU and federal level, administrative regulations, technical regulations and specifications of insurers makes it difficult for companies and managers to maintain an overview.

The complex operational reality is characterized by a rising number of technical requirements and a permanent increase in internal and external interfaces.

A well-structured operator obligation management means for you to comply with all public law and contractual regulations and to be able to prove this in writing at any time if necessary. This is the basis for your release from liability as a responsible person in terms of legally compliant operation of your plants and buildings.

Who is the operator? Which operator obligations must be fulfilled?

According to VDI 3810, operators are all natural or legal persons (e.g. responsible managers) who are responsible for plants or facilities and have the actual or legal possibility to make necessary decisions with regard to the safety of these plants. At least since the amended Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (02/2015), a stricter jurisdiction applies - also in terms of the employer's obligations. The operator is liable for the intended operation of his plants.

The assumption of operator responsibility is synonymous with compliance with and implementation of the generally applicable requirements of the technical regulations. The operator is therefore responsible, based on legal and contractual obligations, for active and proactive control and documentation of risks and safety measures by reducing the probability and the effects of damage. The prevention of organizational culpability due to insufficient fulfilment of duties because of lack of knowledge, lack of expertise or ineffective delegation goes hand in hand with legal compliance of an operating company.

Do you have any questions? 

You already know what you need?

Our services for your operator responsibility

Operator documents and workshops
  • Conducting in-house workshops and web conferences for a general introduction to the topic of operator obligation management or for specific questions of the operator.
  • Methodical support in the conception and preparation of risk assessments within the framework of in-house workshops or web conferences
  • Development of sample data sets for risk assessments and operating instructions for plants and work equipment not subject to monitoring as Excel/Word documents or within a software solution
  • Methodical support in the preparation of maintenance and inspection concepts as well as safety reports, security management system, explosion protection documents/concepts and operating manuals
  • Assistance with instructional and verification documents (instructions, delegation, external company coordination)
  • Support with systematic risk analysis (HAZOP/PAAG/LOPA)
  • Support with the legal requirements and manufacturer obligations to the Machinery Directive (EU Machinery Regulation) in the event of “substantial modification”, manufacture for personal use and replacement of individual units as well as the testing of complete conformity (e.g. in the sense of an "assembly of machinery") and creation of internal guidelines for implementing the Machinery Directive or risk assessments
Inventory and document management
  • On-site inventory of buildings, facilities and technical equipment
  • Structuring of site units and organizational units as Excel/Word documents or within a software solution
  • Creation of import files for efficient data migration of SAP data, Excel data etc. into existing or new HSE software solutions
  • Creation of plant registers work equipment lists
  • Creation of a document management system
Compliance check audits and technical revision
  • Conducting compliance check audits and technical audits on plant safety, occupational health and safety, environmental protection and health protection, including questionnaires on organizational structure and process organization and inspections of operating areas/plants.
  • Concept creation for the evaluation of processes with regard to legal requirements and verification of compliance with legal regulations
  • Summary of findings in brief and audit reports and preparation of action plans as Excel/Word documents or within a software solution
  • Joint prioritization of measures and coordination of schedules with the responsible persons
  • Carrying out follow-up audits on the implementation of the measure
  • Development and provision of questionnaires for internal audits and plant tours
Requirements management, legal register and inspection overviews
  • Digitalization of requirements/ancillary provisions from permits incl. scan service and derivation of action plans
  • Preparation of legal cadastres for the legal areas of plant safety, occupational health and safety, environmental protection and health protection
  • Derivation of concrete legal obligations and measures as well as their linkage with responsible parties
  • Derivation of inspection plans incl. target/actual comparison of existing inspection obligation overviews
  • Monitoring of regulations and recommendations for action on the implementation and effects of amended regulations and legal obligations (workshops)

Operator liability - stricter entrepreneurial personal responsibility

Awareness of one's own responsibility often only arises in the case of damage that has already occurred and the associated liability and criminal law consequences. Don't let it get that far. Organizational negligence, non-compliance with required inspection deadlines or violations of technical standards become legally relevant arguments, e.g. for claims for damages and compensation for pain and suffering. The development of the last few years shows that the liability requirements have become significantly stricter to the detriment of companies and managers. Furthermore, the growing personal responsibility of the entrepreneur increases the risk potential for further omissions.

Important to know: In the event of a claim, the presumption of innocence does not apply to you as the operator. You as the operator must prove that everything reasonable was done in advance to avoid damage. Appropriate documentation is therefore essential. This includes instructional documents such as procedural instructions, operating manuals and risk assessments, as well as verifiable documents such as organizational charts, test reports, training certificates and documents on the transfer of duties.

Operator obligation management – Your advantages

TÜV NORD supports you in achieving your goal of legal certainty in the operation of plants and buildings. From carrying out an audit to structuring the specific legal and inspection obligations for your entire plant inventory as part of a detailed analysis to providing support in creating all the necessary documents – together with you we develop an individual concept for implementing your operator obligations, while identifying unnecessary measures and reducing your organizational effort. The possibility of modular commissioning allows he individual adaptation to your needs and requirements.


  • Reduces technical and liability risks
  • Takes into account legal and technical aspects (compilation of legal cadastre and plant cadastre)
  • Considers your entire site (facilities, buildings, areas, people, processes and the environment)
  • Offers more security and transparency (internally – vis-à-vis your employees) (externally – vis-à-vis the public and authorities)
  • Provides information on changes to relevant regulations and the resulting legal obligations
Do you have any questions or comments? Contact us!