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



The simplified definition of a contractor is that it includes the employees of any employer who carry out construction work. This includes both the main contractor and any subcontractor. The definition also makes provision for any self-employed person where they supply materials and labour, or only labour.

Additionally, a body such as a local authority may also be considered a contractor should the work be carried out directly by the authority’s employees. Having defined what contractor means, the next crucial factor to consider is what duties contractors have in South Africa.

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The Health and Safety Duties of a Contractor

Contractors have important duties which can relate to a wide range of factors. This can include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Cooperation with the principal contractor and to provide any site-specific information which includes relevant extracts from the Safety Statement.
  • Providing the principal contractor and/or client with the information which is required for the safety file.
  • Compliance with the directions provided by project supervisors.
  • The reporting of incidents and accidents to the Authority as well as the principal contractor where employees cannot perform their normal duties for more than three days.
  • Compliance with site rules as well as the health and safety plan and ensuring that all employees comply with them as well.
  • The identification and reduction of hazards and risks and, where possible, the elimination thereof.
  • The facilitation of the site safety representative.
  • Ensuring that relevant workers possess a safety awareness card as well as a construction skills card, where required.
  • Providing workers with a site-specific induction.
  • The appointing of a safety officer where there are a certain number of people employed on site.
  • Consultation with workers regarding the site-specific induction.
  • Monitoring of compliance and taking corrective action where necessary.


Furthermore, Contractors are legally required to 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.


Health and Safety File

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) and the Construction Regulations 2014, contractors are, by law, required to compile and keep a Health and Safety File which contains site specific documentation along with the following:

  • 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.


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: 28th Feb 2021