Operating instructions

The employer / superior is generally obliged to compile operating instructions, and this is stipulated in the state laws on occupational safety, e.g. the Arbeitsschutzgesetz (the Act on the Implementation of Measures of Occupational Safety and Health to Encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health Protection of Workers at Work) and accident prevention regulations.

Operating instructions regulate workplace and activity-related behaviour at work with the aim of avoiding accident and health risks. They are an instruction by the employer to the employees and serve as a basis for instructions.

It must be ensured that access to the operating instructions is possible at all times.

In the event of changes, such as the operational procedures, the operating instructions are to be adapted accordingly. The operating instructions should therefore be checked on a regular basis - usually once a year.

Employees are obliged to adhere to the operating instructions. This follows on from Section 15 of the DGUV Regulation 1 (previously known as GUV-V A1), whereby instructions given by the employer in relation to occupational safety shall be obeyed, and instructions that are clearly contrary to safety and health requirements must not be obeyed.

Requirements for operating instructions

Operating instructions are to be written in such a way that the employees can understand the language of the contents and apply them during their operating tasks. Employees who do not understand an adequate level of German require operating instructions to be compiled in a language they do understand.

Contents and layout of operating instructions

Operating instructions describe the hazards to be expected from a machine, a working procedure, a hazardous substance or a biological agent. The instructions also include protective measures, rules on how to behave when handling such objects, in the event of faults and accidents, as well as information on first aid, maintenance and disposal.

There is no compulsory layout for operating instructions, but it should be designed in a consistent manner, e.g.

  • Operating instructions for machines and equipment in "blue"
  • Operating instructions for hazardous substances in "orange"
  • Operating instructions for biological agents in "green".


Machines and equipment

For technical products such as machines and equipment, the operating instructions must contain the required details from the manufacturer's, importer's or supplier's instruction manuals.

Hazardous substances

The Technical Rule for Hazardous Substances TRGS 555 "Working instruction and information for workers" contains special instructions for compiling operating instructions for hazardous substances.

The substance labelling and the appropriate material safety data sheet serve as sources of information.

If lots of hazardous substances are used, e.g. in storage rooms or labs, then it is permissible not to compile separate operating instructions for each individual substance, but to produce group or collective operating instructions, providing that similar risks or hazards can occur when working with these substances and comparable protective measures are effective. However, extra operating instructions must be compiled when performing particularly dangerous tasks with hazardous substances.

Sample operating instructions


 Operating Instructions Autoclaves.doc

 Operating Instructions Fume Hoods.doc

 Operating Instructions Microwaves.doc

Operating Instructions Safety cabinets used to store flammable substances.doc

Operating Instructions Heating ovens/drying ovens.doc

Operating Instructions centrifuges