How to set up a Health and Safety Contractor File in South Africa



A Health and Safety File, more commonly known as a contractor safety file, is a record containing information that focuses on health and safety management on construction sites, specifically for both contractors as well as subcontractors.

This file serves to protect the employer from any criminal liability. It also proves compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations. 

It is not only important for employers in South Africa to have a health and safety contractor file but to know how it must be set up to ensure that it is done correctly.

However, it is firstly important to understand the legal requirements behind the health and safety file.


South African law and the Health and Safety File

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 as well as the Construction Regulations 2014, every contractor and subcontractor must have a health and safety file that is always available.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 as well as the Construction Regulations 2014 state the following:

  • Construction Regulation 3(6) states that the client must ensure that a copy of the construction work permit is kept by the contractor as per sub-regulation (1). This must be kept in the health and safety file for inspection by either an inspector, the client, an authorized agent of the client, or an employee.
  • Construction Regulation 5(1)(s) states that the client must ensure that the health and safety file, which is contemplated in regulation 7(1)(b), is kept as well as maintained by the principal contractor.
  • Construction Regulation 7(1)(b) states that the principal contractor is tasked with compiling and keeping an on-site health and safety file. The file must contain all documentation that is required in terms of the Act as well as the Regulations. The file must be available on request either by an inspector, the client, an agent of the client, or a contractor.

The duty of maintaining the Safety File falls to the site safety personnel and it must be audited by a competent person.

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What must be included in the Health and Safety File?

Each health and safety file must be relevant to the site, thus site-specific. It must be compiled in accordance with the client and the site’s safety specifications. Overall information requirements in the file will remain the same and the documents relating to the site must be added.

When setting up a health and safety file, the following must be in the file:

  • The contractor’s appointment letter as per Construction Regulation 5(3)(f) of the OHS A) 37(2) Agreement between the client and the contractor.
  • The notification of construction work.
  • A copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Management Plan.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Policy of the company.
  • Letter of Good Standing.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for hazardous materials which will be used, if this is applicable to the work that will be performed by the contractor/subcontractor.
  • Tax clearance certificate.
  • Risk Assessments.
  • Site-Specific Safe Work Procedures.
  • Legal appointments along with proof of training.
  • Procedures pertaining to incident reporting.
  • Incident reports as per General Administrative Regulation 9(3) – Annexure 1
  • Incident registers
  • Reports of accidents.
  • Documents pertaining to emergency readiness.
  • First aid documents
  • Induction records
  • Medical surveillance records
  • Safety Communication such as Toolbox Talks
  • Minutes of previous safety meetings
  • Inspection Registers, and more.

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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 of 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: 28th Feb 2021