A Health and Safety File in South Africa is also known as a ‘Safety File’. This is a record of information which focuses on health and safety management on various sites, including that of construction sites, where both contractors and sub-contractors are concerned.
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The Beginner’s Guide to Compiling a Contractors’ Health and Safety File in South Africa
A Health and Safety file can be either be a detrimental component or it could be a lifesaver in the worst of situations. Proof of evidence is one of the most important components of the Occupational Health and Management System of any business. It is also one of the best defences against any liability and vicarious liability.
As per the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act a book, record, or any other documents must be kept. When using the latter, it is important to know what must be contained in such a record, otherwise referred to as a health and safety file.
For this reason, the points below serve as a beginner’s guide in compiling a contractor’s health and safety file, specifically in South Africa. These are but a few items which are required in the safety file to ensure that the basis for the employer, employee and client are covered.
These documents serve to ensure that people are protected and that a record is maintained as proof of providing a healthy and safe working environment.
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.
A Health and Safety File, otherwise known as a Safety File, can be simply defined as a record of information which focuses on the management of health and safety on-site for both contractors as well as subcontractors. The safety file ensures that the employer is protected from criminal liability in addition to proving compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
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.
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.
As an employer, it is imperative to consider the specific health and safety requirements when using contractors and subcontractors in South Africa. Both the employer and the contractor have their own duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, along with any other health and safety law.
Should the contractor make use of their own subcontractors, such as a building contractor using the services of an electrician or a plumber, both will have health and safety responsibilities.
Contractor Health and Safety – Who is responsible in South Africa - Is it the employer or the contractor
Contractors can provide important business benefits. They also offer a practical and a profitable way of managing workloads which vary. However, there is one important consideration where they are concerned pertaining to contractor health and safety and who is responsible in South Africa. Is it the employer or the contractor?
Contractor Health and Safety – Whose Responsibility is it in South Africa?
To explore contractor Health and Safety as well as whose responsibility it is in South Africa, it is imperative to explore the concept of ‘contracting’ as well as the factors involved. This will provide a more concise idea of the responsibilities associated with Health and Safety in the South African context in workplaces.
A contractor serves the purpose of providing services which are contracted for a certain period. They can either be classed as an employee or worker, or they can be an individual who is self-employed.
Contractors can also work for a client via an umbrella company or an agency. In cases such as these, the contractor’s employer is the umbrella company or agency instead of the client directly.
Contractors can be used for a multitude of tasks, including, but not limited to:
Building and/or construction work
Gardening and Landscaping
Information Technology Support as well as maintenance, and
Safety and Security Services