What are the Health and Safety Obligations of Contractors in South Africa?


Health and Safety Obligations of Contractors

All contractors and subcontractors in South Africa have certain Health and Safety Obligations which must be met. These pertain specifically to routine as well as non-routine activities of contractors and subcontractors who have access to a specific process, workplace, or project which is under the control of the client, or principal contractor.

To ensure that contractors and subcontractors as well as any other service providers and suppliers comply with legislation, it is imperative for the client or principal contractor to have the necessary Health and Safety Performance standards in place as a requirement.

Contractors must comply with the following:

  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act, (Act 85 of 1993) and its Regulations.
  • The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, (Act 30 of 1993).
  • The Local Municipal Bylaws, which is applicable to the location.
  • The Tobacco Products Control Act, (83 of 1993).
  • The South African National Standards.

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The client appointing a principal contractor must ensure that there is a successful Occupational Health and Safety management system. This system must be integrated into the business management system of the company.

The client must ensure that the contractor is provided with Occupational Health and Safety Specifications. From these a Health and Safety Plan must be developed by the contractor and must include, but not be restricted to:

  • The levels of competencies as well as the appointments for managers, supervisors, operators, and any other personnel who are tasked with substantial risk or any specialised work.
  • Risk assessments pertaining to tasks identified which have substantial risks. There must also be a programme aimed at implementing, reviewing, and monitoring risk assessments and any future risk assessments which may be required.
  • Programme schedules where planned inspections are required along with audits, and
  • Documentation control measures which include Occupational Health and Safety Files,for example all documentation can be stored in a Contractor file.


Health and Safety Duties

Apart from compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and all other relevant regulations, contractors have numerous other Health and Safety duties, including but not limited to those listed below.

In addition to these, contractors may be subjected to additional requirements as per the specific site and client.



The contractor or their site representative, in their absence, is responsible to report any incidents which have resulted in injury or damage to the client or their appointed agent immediately.

Should an employee of the contractor or any other person under their control working on the client’s premises sustain an injury or they are involved in an incident, they must report it by completing an incident form and following the OHS Act’s requirements relating to incident reporting.

Furthermore, the reporting of such injuries and/or incidents to COIDA or FEM remains the responsibility of the contractor where correspondence, claims, enquiries, etc. is concerned.

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Safety Inductions

The contractor’s employees and visitors must attend a site-specific safety induction before work can be started on the site. The induction may be presented as specified by the conditions of the contract, but all persons must be subjected to induction while on site.


Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments

Before work can commence, the contractor and the client’s construction project team must conduct a Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA) which relates to specific tasks to be performed. The HIRA must, additionally, also be completed before commissioning is started.

The contractor must ensure that method statements or safe work procedures are submitted for any hazardous tasks which have been identified. A copy of this procedure must be lodged with the client or their appointed agent.



It is the duty of the contractor to ensure that their area of work is arranged in such a manner that it does not present a danger to others. For this reason, contractor sites and workplaces must be planned to ensure effective housekeeping. 



It is the duty and responsibility of the contractor to compile and keep a Health and Safety File on site. The documents which are required under legislative requirements and management plans must be available at any time. This must include, but not restricted to the following:

  • Any important contact numbers.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Policies.
  • Legal Appointments
  • Employee List
  • Audits
  • Medical Certification
  • Training
  • Notification of Construction
  • Occupational Health and Safety Plan.
  • Subcontractor Agreements
  • Meetings
  • A copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • First aid
  • Risk assessments
  • List of designs as well as drawings.
  • Maintenance records of equipment and machinery.
  • COID Act/FEM Act.
  • All relevant registers.
  • Incident Reports
  • Inspection Reports
  • Occupational Health and Safety Representative Reports.
  • The keeping of records according to the Act, and
  • Any miscellaneous records.


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, Contact Us.

Posted date: 28th Feb 2021