Health And Safety File: Our Step-By-Step Guide

What is a health and safety file and why do you need it? When you as a South African construction company agree to do work on a construction site you inevitably agree to a mountain of risks that surround your project. 

It is a criminal offense to work on a construction site in South Africa without a safety file. Your safety file should outline how you will approach your work tasks on-site and how you will ensure your workers are working in the safest way possible. The documents in your file protect contractors and subcontractors from costly liabilities resulting from damages and hazards at the site.

What Is Included In A Health And Safety File?

Your safety file should include risk assessments, safe work procedures, policies and other documents with close adherence to health and well-being standards. These documents protect employers from any form of liability resulting from a criminal offense and prove your compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Construction Regulations.

What Does The Law Say?

The Construction Regulations 2014 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 require all contractors and subcontractors to have with them this safety file at all times while on-site. These files should also be kept after the project has been completed for record purposes. 

1. Construction Regulation 3(6) 

‘ A client should dutifully make sure that the contractor maintains a construction work permit as contemplated in the health and safety file [sub-regulation (1)] for inspection by authorized agents and inspectors.’

2. Construction Regulation 5(1) (s) 

‘The client must validate that the principal contractor maintains a health and safety file outlined in regulation 7(1) (b)’

3. Construction Regulation 7(1) (b) 

‘The main contractor must avail a health and safety plan or file alongside other documentation at the site. These regulations should always be accessible by inspectors and agents on demand.’

Safety File Checklist

It is wise to seek professional help when compiling a safety file. This is to ensure that you are compliant with the law and that you are protected from any liability. 

Apart from complying with the Health and Safety Act and regulations pertaining to your work you also need to comply with your clients safety specifications. Your client should not allow you to work on site until you comply. Your health and safety file should have the documents proving that you do comply. 

Below is a general checklist of what your file should contain.  

  • Risk assessments for all work performed on-site. 
  • Safe work procedures for all work performed on-site. 
  • Policies and procedures 
  • Appointments
  • Appointment letters and competency certificates 
  • Safety plan 
  • Mandatory agreements 
  • Registers and checklists 
  • Emergency procedures 
  • Medicals and inductions 
  • Tool box talks

A safety file is proof of compliance with the Health and Safety Act and Regulations and with the Construction Regulation of 2014. Everyone involved should take an active role in the development and review of their safety file.

As Safety consultants we are familiar with major construction companies in South Africa and what they require. We guarantee that you will be fully compliant. This allows you to focus on your work. 

If you have been selected to be a subcontractor on a project and you are not sure how to set up your site-specific safety file, contact us today. We will be happy to assist.