Operator responsibility in facility management: delegating duties is the safe thing to do

  • Do you fully understand the extent of your responsibilities as an operator?
  • Can you still navigate the thicket of laws, regulations and standards?
  • Do your duties as an operator get in the way of your core business?
  • Are you positive that your key personnel know all the latest rules, regulations and practices in detail?
  • Would you like to provide seminars on operator responsibility at your organization?

Industrial parks, production sites and manufacturing facilities all carry an intrinsic risk: that incidents may injure people, damage property or pollute the environment. That risk is higher for chemical and pharmaceutical businesses than in many other industries.

The owner remains the primary operator

Operational safety is chiefly the operator’s responsibility. According to the German Civil Code, the operator is the owner of the applicable land or building. This holds true regardless of whether the operator is a legal entity or a natural person. This fact alone shows that most owners cannot discharge all their operator responsibilities themselves. Instead, the direction and supervision of these tasks is generally delegated to third parties, who thus assume an operator function as well. The most practical choice – and the one that most effectively reduces owner liability and assures regulatory compliance in the operational organization – is to combine operator responsibilities with facility management functions.

In practice, operator responsibilities are shared by many people at the company. They include not only C-level executives and directors but all employees who have a managerial role. In fact, the responsibilities stretch all the way to the line employees performing the actual tasks – including craftspeople, cooks, janitors, groundskeepers and cleaning staff.

Protection against damage and hazards

One of an operator’s main responsibilities is to safeguard personal legal interests such as life, limb, health, liberty and property. Operators are also required to protect the environment by preventing air, soil and water pollution, among other things. They are liable for any damage or loss resulting from a wrongful act or omission – and not just when the damage or loss was caused by a criminally relevant act, either. They can be held liable for acts that are technically lawful but pose a small risk. After all, operators are responsible for ensuring safe operations and minimizing the operational hazards that their plants, facilities and buildings pose.

Many laws and regulations impose safety duties on operators: fire safety, noise control, machinery stability, traffic safety and plants that require special safety monitoring. Operators have to protect people from electric shock as well as hazards posed by work equipment and hazardous substances. In addition, they are required to minimize air pollution and properly dispose of waste and wastewater as part of their legal duties of immission control, soil protection and water pollution control.

Climate protection and the safeguarding of people and property from crime and forces of nature are operator responsibilities, too, although they are not explicitly mentioned in the relevant laws.

Day-to-day operations are regulated in detail by a wide variety of directives, regulations and other rules. It takes profound, professional-level expertise not to get overwhelmed by all this information while still staying abreast of relevant changes in the regulatory environment.

Source: GEFMA 710

Freeing up resources for your core business

Performing all these duties yourself ties up resources that would be put to more profitable use in your core business. It makes more sense to outsource to an external facility management partner. Obviously, delegating operator responsibility is not tantamount to completely absolving yourself of all criminal liability. However, owners who rely on a service provider’s expertise can hold the provider accountable for any losses, damages or injuries.

Go-to partner for facility management

Infraserv Höchst “descended” from the former Hoechst AG: When the Hoechst AG Group was reorganized, the company was spun off as the independent operator of Hoechst’s former parent plant, now known as Industriepark Höchst. That made Infraserv Höchst the owner of the 4.6 square kilometer site as well as most of the buildings at Industriepark Höchst. The 90-plus companies at the site rent the real estate they occupy. In addition, Infraserv Höchst provides facility management services for numerous customers in and outside the industrial park. That includes the assumption of operator responsibilities for key plants and buildings. Under the terms of some service contracts, delegated responsibilities extend deep into the tenant companies’ production operations. We have highly skilled specialists who know the ins and outs of all the technical rules and regulations.

One highly relevant rule is GEFMA 190. This is a 58-page handout from the German Facility Management Association that summarizes the facility management obligations covered by the operator’s responsibilities.

We employ various systems to efficiently conduct and reliably document all our activities at interfaces to our customers, suppliers and partners.

As a full-responsibility FM partner, we do more than provide hard facility management and design and build sophisticated buildings, laboratories and infrastructure; we also operate energy and fluid generation units and waste management facilities for our customers.

We have our own GMP organization as well. All the services we perform are properly documented for total regulatory compliance and reduced liability.

One team – one point of contact

Here is our promise: Our highly capable facility management team, specialized in all aspects of operator responsibilities and located at our headquarters and your site, will be represented by one person. For all your projects. This person will be the first point of contact for all your questions. That way, you always know exactly who to talk to and who to expect to provide the right information every time, no matter what your concern may be. Can we personally present our solution to you?

Your personal Infraserv Höchst contact has full responsibility at your site.

Your most important benefits at a glance:

  • Focus fully on your core business
  • Specialized expertise of a seasoned FM provider
  • Delegate operator responsibility to reduce your liability and maximize compliance
  • Professionally maintain plants and building equipment and properly document the work
  • No resources unnecessarily tied up in non-core processes
  • Extensive assistance in all areas (of expertise) of facility management
  • Confidence from partnering with an industry expert
  • Single point of contact for smooth interactions and a transparent relationship
  • Make your site more attractive to investors