Why must Site Files be submitted for Health and Safety?



Safety Files are also known as a ‘Contractor Health and Safety File’. Simply defined, it is a record of information which focuses on the effective management of health and safety on construction sites for both contractors and contractors. 

Why must site files be submitted for health and safety? Simply, it protects the employer from any criminal liability in addition to proving the compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations.

The Safety File is, therefore, imperative, and it is legally required that all contractors and subcontractors compile one.

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South African law and the health and safety file

Each contractor as well as subcontractor must have a safety file which is always available, as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) along with the Construction Regulations (2014).

According to both the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Construction Regulations, the following is applicable:

  • Construction Regulation 3(6) – The client (employer) must ensure that the principal contractor keeps a copy of the construction work permit contemplated as per sub-regulation (1) in the Occupational Health and Safety file for inspection by any inspector, the client, an authorized agent of the client, or an employee.
  • Construction Regulation 5(1)(s) – The client (employer) must ensure that the health and safety file as per regulation 7(1)(b) is kept as well as maintained by the principal contractor.
  • Construction Regulation 7(1)(b) – The principal contractor must open and keep on-site health and safety file, which must include all documentation required, in terms of the Act and these regulations, which must be made available upon request to an inspector, the client, an agent of the client, or a contractor.
  • In addition, the health and safety file must be maintained by safety personnel on site and audited by a person who has been deemed competent.


What must the Safety File contain?

It is imperative to know that there is no generic safety file and that each must be site-specific. It will be compiled according to the client and the safety specifications of the site. There is, however, overall requirements which must be contained in the file that will remain the same and along with these, the site-specific documents must be added additionally.

When compiling a health and safety file, the following documents must be included:

  • 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 in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment. To find out how you can ensure employers’ and contractor Health and Safety, click here.

Posted date: 28th Feb 2021