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Legally Compliant Documentation – Lawyers Love It!

Everyone is familiar with the reality of documentation: a document is voluminous, but just at those points which deal with money and responsibility, the author hesitates to express himself clearly. The consequences of this indecisiveness are then reflected in meandering texts which create headaches for document users and takes up valuable time and resources.  

The equation could be expressed as:
“Resources absorbed = superfluous pages * number of users reading document”.
Surely it would make sense from a business point of view to think of reducing documentation to essentials while it is being generated!? Banish redundant information, concentrate on informative content…
Redundancy is in the nature of man: people want to be protected on all sides from possible attacks from any direction!

Let’s find out what industrial safety regulations have to say on the subject of “legally compliant documentation”:

The recent amendment of the German Industrial Safety Regulation (Betriebssicherheits-verordnung, BetrSichV), which applies as of 1June 2015, regulates the basic obligation of documentation. In Sections 22 and 23 it concretely and unambiguously itemizes the facts of administrative and criminal offences. Here are a few examples:

From 01.06.2015 under BetrSichV, failure to invest in up-to-dateness of documentation, negligent misjudgement in assessments, and failure to carry out inspections on time are punishable offences!

In the international safety standard IEC 61508, Part 1 section 5 under “Documentation”, methods and structures for documentation are clearly presented. The targeted realization of the safety life cycle is also described. This includes the right regulatory environment, and sound hazard analysis and assessment of risks.

To sum up:
Legally compliant documentation is written in a way which specifically aims to avoid administrative and criminal offences as described in German and international industrial safety regulations. Legally compliant documentation is based on sound hazard analysis and risk assessment. It also has a clear structure which is in conformity with regulations, and is maintainable.

And finally: legally compliant documentation always needs to reflect the current status of the technology!