Must the Health and Safety Site File be Location Specific in South Africa?



The Construction Regulations (2003) form part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) and it creates a minimum standard legislation which must be complied with. The Construction Regulations, in short, applies to anyone who may be involved in construction work. 

Regulation 4(2) states that the client is responsible for discussing as well as negotiating with their principal contractor what the contents of their safety plan and Health and Safety file must contain before it can be approved and implemented.


Must the Health and Safety file be specific?

In South Africa, it is imperative that the Health and Safety File contain standard documentation as well as other documents which make it site specific. The Health and Safety File must also include a detailed, site specific safety plan which, like the Health and Safety file, must comply with the necessary regulations.

The reason for this is that the safety plan is a documented record which addresses specific hazards which have been identified. It also includes all safe work procedures which serve to mitigate, reduce, or control those hazards.

Furthermore, hazard identification pertains to both the identification and documentation of both existing and expected hazards which pose a threat to the health and safety of people, which can normally be associated with the type of construction work performed, or to be performed in future.

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Development of the health and safety plan

When regarding the development of the safety plan, Regulation 4(1)(a) states that it must be developed according to the health and safety specifications which are provided by the client. 

Thus, the safety plan must include documented specification of all health and safety requirements. These must revolve around the associated work on the construction site to effectively ensure the health and safety of those working on the site.

In practice, the safety plan can therefore be described as a summary of legal requirements which must be documented and implemented on the specific construction site or workplace. This ensures that there is a safe and healthy work environment provided.

It also elaborates on existing and potential worksite hazards in addition and provides company policies, controls, and work practices selected to ensure that such hazards are minimized.


Who is responsible for compilation of the health and safety plan?

The responsibility of the Health and Safety file and plan compilation falls to the principal contractor. This is the person who is tasked with performing the construction work. The principal contractor is appointed by the client to be in control and to manage either a part of, or the whole, construction site.

According to Regulation 5(1), the principal contractor must provide as well as demonstrate to the client a documented safety plan which is both suitable and sufficient, based on the documented health and safety specifications of the client.

In turn, the principal contractor will require a specific plan associated with the task at hand from the contractor. Regulation 5(4) states that the contractor must provide, and demonstrate to, the principal contractor a health and safety plan which is suitable and sufficient, based on the relevant sections of the health and safety specifications of the principal contractor.


How is provision made for Subcontractors?

Where subcontractors are used, the contractor must demand a similar plan from the subcontractor for the specific task that they will perform.


What must the health and safety plan contain?

The following information will provide a framework for the documents to be included in the Health and Safety plan, keeping in mind that the file must be  site specific and in accordance with the health and safety specifications of the client.



  • Notification of construction which must be submitted to the Department of Labour.
  • Legal appointments and subsequent training of personnel who will carry them.
  • Registers proving training and induction courses of personnel.
  • Assessment records.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and inspection records as well as registers.
  • A register containing the plant and equipment which will be used for construction and their subsequent records of inspection.
  • Registers of audits conducted on site along with copies thereof.
  • Registers of safety reports conducted on site along with copies.
  • Registers of risk assessments conducted on site along with copies.
  • Registers containing incidents, first aid and reportable injuries on site and copies thereof.
  • Registers of approved operators, certificates of training.
  • Letter of Good Standing with the compensation fund.


Method statements pertaining to:

  • Construction work
  • Risk assessments
  • Fall protection plan (FPP)
  • Excavations as well as backfilling
  • Pipe, duct, or caballing
  • The testing of pressure pipelines
  • Electrical work
  • Structural concrete
  • Paving
  • Welfare
  • First aid
  • Form as well as support work.
  • Demolitions
  • Scaffolding and suspended scaffold, and
  • Housekeeping.


Registers of warnings:

This relates specifically to warnings issued for unsafe work practices such as non-compliance with PPE prescriptions, negligence, and so on.

Must the Health and Safety Site Files be Site-Specific in South Africa

Public as well as environmental issues associated with the workplace:

  • The traffic management plan
  • Emergency plan
  • Pedestrian as well as vehicle traffic management plan
  • Environmental scoping document for construction, impact assessment records, and management plan for constructions.
  • Protocols associated with the minimisation of dust and noise.
  • Records of decisions pertaining to construction work, storing of diesel on site and the storing of chemicals on-site.
  • Records and copies of incident investigation reports which were conducted on the construction site.
  • Copies of reports associated with the Provincial Director where reportable injuries have occurred on the site.


In conclusion

The information above associated with the health and safety plan must be documented and it must form part of the Health and Safety File. According to its definition, it means the file, or any other record in permanent form which contains required information as contemplated in the Construction Regulations.

The Health and Safety file typically contains all notifications, records, appointments, registers, and copies including the contents of the safety plan. Both the plan and the file must be always kept on the site from when the construction starts and throughout its durations.

The documents contained in the plan and the file must be used daily to ensure that the health and safety requirements are met as well as maintained on site as according to the risk assessment.


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Posted date: 28th Feb 2021