Comply to South Africa's Health and Safety Requirement for a Site File, and get your Health and Safety Certificate


Health and Safety requirements for a Site File

Small and medium business entities (SMEs) in South Africa face numerous challenges, with the compilation of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) file as one of these challenges. This file is one which is compiled by trained and competent OHS practitioners or a team of professionals who have the correct skills, knowledge, experience, and qualifications.

Contractors in South Africa must not be allowed access to a workplace without having a health and safety file which is in place. Another consideration which may often be overlooked is the compliance certificate, proving compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Thus, comply to South Africa’s Health and Safety requirements for a site file, and you get your health and safety certificate. However, there may be numerous questions over how this can be done, and what the process is for obtaining a compliance certificate.

The next few sections will critically discuss the safety file and how health and safety compliance can award you with a health and safety compliance certificate.


Will I need an OHS file for my project?

There are no exceptions offered by South African legislation regarding whether an OHS file is required when contractors work on a site. There are various legal documents which must form part of the file before work can be started regardless of whether it is for a day, or longer.

The principal contractor is tasked with setting out the requirements for the OHS file according to the health and safety specifications that they drafted, taking into consideration the size, the duration, and the work to be performed during the project along with relevant legislation.

The OHS specification clearly states the OHS requirements along with the legal documents which are for the specific project, which will be provided to the contractor. The OHS file must be kept on site and it must be available at any given time.

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What will a generic OHS file look like?

OHS files will differ from one site and project to the next. However, they follow a similar pattern that will always include the following documents:

  • Baseline risk assessments along with task-specific risk assessments.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Management Plan.
  • Fall Protection and Rescue Plans.
  • Contractual documents (Section 37(2) agreement, and all others).
  • Safe Operating work procedures.
  • Emergency numbers
  • Evacuation plans and all other emergency-related documents.
  • Incident reporting along with investigation procedures.
  • COIDA documents.
  • Employee details.
  • Registers as well as checklists for tools, equipment, and/or machines.
  • Daily safety talks, Planned Task Observations (PTOs), and daily safety task inspections.
  • Company policies, and
  • All other management plans specific to the work performed.

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What is the importance of the OHS file?

The compilation and the subsequent communication of the OHS file may be overwhelming and there may be contractors who have previously worked without such a file. However, should an incident or an injury occur, both the employer and the employee, or contractor, will face profound consequences.

Employers have a legal obligation towards ensuring that a safe and healthy work environment is provided to all employees. This will include ensuring that procedures are in place to create such an environment. If the employer should fail, both the employer and employee are exposed to substantial risks and the employer can face legal sanctions such as hefty fines and even imprisonment.

Employees are tasked with numerous duties and responsibilities, one of them being that employees must report unsafe conditions or practices to their employer. Failing this is in contravention of the law, as according to Section 14(d) of OHSA referring to the duties of employees at work.


How will OHS compliance help me get a health and safety certificate?

A certificate of compliance can only be issued once the following prerequisites are met:

  • There is compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and Regulations, and
  • A health and safety compliance audit has been conducted to prove compliance.

Audits may not be a legal requirement, but they are highly recommended. They are an in-depth examination of the occupational health and safety programme of an organisation. They are needed to prove compliance and to obtain the certificate of compliance.

Once subscribed to SafetyWallet, the subscriber can book their OHS compliance audit online to have a qualified SafetyWallet auditor audit their OHS programme, the effectiveness of procedures, and to have the auditor highlight areas where improvement is needed, the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and for recommendations to be made for consideration.

Once the subscriber has been found competent, they will be provided with their certificate of compliance, which is valid for a year.


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. To find out how you can ensure employer and contractor’s Health and Safety compliance, click here.

Posted date: 20th Mar 2021
Blogs - Contractors-Management