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Introduction of safety bulletins



This SPC introduces the new HSE procedures for producing safety bulletins, and replaces the current OSD arrangements for producing safety alerts and safety notices. There are no changes to the arrangements for publishing operations notices, information sheets or other web based guidance. SPC/Admin/61 is now withdrawn.


Until recently different HSE directorates have developed their own systems and procedures for communicating matters of concern within their sectors. HSE has now developed a single system for this purpose. The different types of safety bulletins and their purposes are set out below.

Types of safety bulletins

Safety alerts

Safety alerts are for major faults that could result in a serious or fatal injury and where immediate remedial action is required.

Safety alerts are issued when there is a specific safety issue which, without immediate action being taken, could result in a serious or fatal injury. When dangerous equipment, processes, procedures or substances are identified during or after an investigation or as the result of a notification from Europe or industry, HSE may need to notify users and other stakeholders of the danger, and the steps that need to be taken to rectify the fault or protect people against it. A safety alert is one way of achieving this.

Safety notices

A safety notice is usually issued to facilitate a change in procedure or to require an action to be undertaken to improve the level of protection or instruction in a potentially dangerous situation. It must be acted upon within a reasonable time, if a time period is not stated. It is not as immediate as a safety alert.

Safety notices are issued where, under certain circumstances, an unsafe situation could arise and lead to injury. For example:

Action should be taken although it may not need to be immediate.

When potentially dangerous equipment, process, procedures or substances have been identified and, depending on the probability of the incident re-occurring and the possible severity of the injuries, HSE may want to inform all users and other stakeholders of the situation and the steps that should be taken to rectify the fault via a safety notice. It is good practice to consult relevant stakeholders when preparing safety bulletins.

Significant changes to existing procedures


It is good practice to consult with key stakeholders, but the method and extent of the consultation should not unduly delay the publication and the urgency of the case should be taken into account. OSD5.1 should continue to be consulted during the preparation of a safety bulletin, and will arrange for clearance by the relevant legal team.


Once approved, OSD5.1 will arrange for publication.

Authors of safety bulletins must prepare a standard letter for duty holders (Example of standard letter for duty holder).

The author of a safety bulletin must advise OSD5.1 of the following:

Close out of safety bulletins

A safety bulletin will be closed out:

Record keeping

All records relating to the preparation and follow up of the bulletin should be saved to a dedicated TRIM folder (BCS 4.6 Targeted Intervention). OSD5.1 will produce a spreadsheet which will be used to monitor progress against each dutyholder. Individual dutyholder interventions should be recorded on Coin, but topic specialists must also note the action taken on the spreadsheet. A template for recording actions and decisions is available from TRIM [record no. 2010/218815] there is also an aide memoire to completion.

Review of safety bulletins

Safety Alerts will be reviewed after one year. Safety Notices will be reviewed after three years. If there is a continuing need for good practice guidance the bulletin should be reviewed, updated as necessary and issued as an offshore information sheet.

Further information

Safety bulletins page

Please contact OSD5.1 for further guidance.

Example of standard letter for duty holders

Aide memoire for recording actions

Updated 2012-07-18