The Beginner’s Guide to Compiling a Contractors Health and Safety File in South Africa


A Health and Safety Site File can be either be a detrimental component or it could be a lifesaver in the worst of situations. Proof of evidence is one of the most important components of the Occupational Health and Management System of any business. It is also one of the best defences against any liability and vicarious liability.

As per the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act a book, record, or any other documents must be kept. When using the latter, it is important to know what must be contained in such a record, otherwise referred to as a health and safety file.

For this reason, the points below serve as a beginner’s guide in compiling a contractor safety file, specifically in South Africa. These are but a few items which are required in the safety file to ensure that the basis for the employer, employee and client are covered.

These documents serve to ensure that people are protected and that a record is maintained as proof of providing a healthy and safe working environment.

Site Specific

The safety file along with the documents that it contains must be specific to the site as well as the task at hand.

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The safety file index must clearly state the content of the file. The index makes it easier for any person inspecting the file or looking for specific documentation to find what they need. There are three crucial things to remember:

  • The safety file is a legal document.
  • The safety file is a public document, and
  • Auditors favour a file which has an index as it makes it easier to find specific documents.

Client Safety Specification

Depending on the business as well as the scope of work, the client must issue a Safety Specification. This document determines what the Safety File must contain, and it must be the foundation of the file.

In addition, with this document, the client may request more than what is required by law as it is required by law and it is seen as best practice.

Scope of Work

The exact scope of work must be stated in this document. Providing an overview is more suited to internal use but the scope of work must revolve around the task or job specifically. Especially where the file is being used on construction sites and where other specialized work is being performed.

Letter of Good Standing

A Letter of Good Standing as well as the Workman’s Compensation Commission is mandatory. This helps the employer should an injury on duty occur and it can save the business a lot of expenses.

Policies and Procedures

This involves all relevant and specific health and safety policies and procedures including the health and safety plan, OHS policies, Covid-19 plans, policies, and other documents.

Risk Assessment

The Baseline Risk Assessment is the document on which the entire Occupational Health and Safety system is built. This must always be available for any person to read and there must be evidence of communication to all employees in the organisation.

Task specific risk assessments as per the scope of work must also be included under this section.

Legal Appointments

There are specific responsibilities towards the Occupational Health and Safety Act with legal appointments being required by law to ensure that commitment is made in writing.

Appointments which must be included in the Safety File include, but is not limited to, the appointments for 16.1, 16.2, Safety Officers, Risk Assessors, Incident Investigators, and numerous others.


Items which are used for tasks must be kept in an inventory. By keeping a register, effective record can be kept of tools, the Hazardous Substances that are kept on site and how they are controlled, along with other factors.

Such a register may even assist in the prevention of incidents as they can identify faulty equipment and having it repaired or removed from the working area.

Proof of Competency

There must be proof of competence of staff included in the file. This can include, but is not limited to:

There must also be proof of competency pertaining to legal appointments.

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IOD Documentation

The file must contain a copy of all the documents of staff relating to ID documents and W.Cl.2 forms. These are the two main documents should an injury on duty occur and even should hospital treatment be required.

In having these documents, the employer can be prepared to assist the injured staff member get medical attention much faster in some cases.

How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?

SafetyWallet works to ensure that its subscribers are supported and assisted in all matters relating to health and safety, and through a partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, subscribers can ensure that they are a part in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment.

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Posted date: 28th Feb 2021