The Importance of a Safety File – A safety file is a record of information that focuses on health and safety management on various construction sites. It is specifically aimed at both the contractors and sub-contractors appointed to the site. The main purpose of safety files is to provide training and information to the employees and provide compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations.
Each contractor, as well as subcontractor, must have a safety file which is always available, as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) along with the Construction Regulations (2014).
According to both the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Construction Regulations, the following is applicable:
- Construction Regulation 3(6) – The client (employer) must ensure that the principal contractor keeps a copy of the construction work permit contemplated as per sub-regulation (1) in the Occupational Health and Safety file for inspection by an inspector, the client, an authorized agent of the client, or an employee.
- Construction Regulation 5(1)(s) – The client (employer) must ensure that the health and safety file as per regulation 7(1)(b) is kept and maintained by the principal contractor.
- Construction Regulation 7(1)(b) – The principal contractor must open and keep on-site health and safety file, which must include all documentation required, in terms of the Act and these regulations, which must be made available upon request to an inspector, the client, an agent of the client, or a contractor.
- In addition, the health and safety file must be maintained by safety personnel on-site and audited by a person who has been deemed competent.
Anatomy of a Safety File
It is important to note that there is not a generic safety file layout and that it must be site-specific. The required documents that should be included in a safety file will be according to the client and health and safety spec – so that only the applicable documentation is included. However, there are some overall requirements that must be included along with site-specific information or documentation. Here is an example of some of the documents that could be contained within a safety file.
- Letter of Good Standing
- Site Rules & policies
- Management Plans
- Emergency Evacuation Plan
- Organogram & Appointments with competencies
- Mandatary Agreement & Contractor Appointment
- Client Spec / Baseline Risk Assessment, notification of construction & construction work permit
- Method statement, Risk Assessment Review Plan, Risk Assessment with Safe Work Procedures
- Daily Safety Task Instructions & Planned Task Observation
- Audit Reports
- Record of Safety Meetings
- Toolbox Talk Register & Checklist
- Inductions, Next of Kin, Id’s & Medicals
- Disciplinary Action & Warnings
- Copy of the Act and Applicable Regulations
The safety file will provide the necessary information to the safety officer, principal contractor, or any other personnel, for example, if an incident occurs on-site. The safety file will provide the required information on how to manage the situation regarding the incident in terms of the incident reporting procedure. The same is applicable for management plans, it is to provide the required information and procedures for risks that could take place on-site. These are some of the management plans that can be seen within a safety file; Health and Safety Plan, Covid-19 Management Plan, Fall Protection Plan, Waste Management Plan, Traffic Management Plan and Environmental Management Plan.
A Safety file is imperative and is legally required that all contractors and subcontractors compile a completed file and maintain the safety file accordingly.
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