Putting a Health and Safety culture into practice

In my previous two posts I wrote about the Health and Safety culture of a company and why employees might not by into the Health and safety culture but it does not help that we only look at it, we need to do something about it.

Putting it into practice

This is not an easy or quick task. Changing peoples fears, habits and view points take time and patience.

It can start by management having a serious look at themselves, at the culture and example they are setting for their subordinates. Are they leaders who lead by fear or a negative example? How do they value the safety of their employees? It might be a company where the culture is to just carry on, to work like a man and not like a wimp that’s scared of being injured. Do they see their employees as money wasters for wanting to work safe?

It might also be the total opposite. The management and leaders might be the once that’s trying hard to implement Health and Safety and a positive culture in the workplace. The workers might be the problem.

How do the workers value risks and working safely? How do they view management? Management might not be supported by the workforce of the company. I admit, I have worked for a company where I had no respect for my superiors and their viewpoints and that caused me to be stubborn and unsupportive. It created a very negative and unpleasant atmosphere. My work experience only improved when I decided to change my mindset and attitude and I have found that that is one of the keys of changing a companies Health and Safety culture.

A company needs to change it’s mindset and attitude. Yes a company is not a person but it is made up of people with mindsets and attitude and that in itself creates the company’s mindset and attitude. The atmosphere in the workplace should be a positive and lively one, immaterial of the type of industry that it’s in. Management should lead by a positive example, they should create trust within the workplace. workers should have the confidence to man-up to their mistakes and to know that they will not be embarrassed by their superiors or that they will be seen as wimps for wanting to do the work safely.

Workers should be supportive of their superiors and not see them as the enforces of systems and procedures. They should not view them the “people” who is on their backs looking for faults.

It is not easy and quick but it is doable. Mindsets, attitudes and viewpoints need to change. It must be done one step at a time. One positive change will influence the creation of another positive change and so it continues. I have seen both sides of the coin, the negative and the positive culture within companies and I can assure you that the positive one is the better one.

Please contact me at raymond@safetyfile.co.za or on 083 304 1680 if you need assistance with the culture of your companies Health and Safety

So why does employees not buy into the companies Health and safety culture?

In my previous article I wrote about the culture of Health and Safety and why employees will not buy into the culture. So what the reasons?

One of the main reasons is fear

People act or react to fear in different ways, even though they know what they are doing might not be the right thing to do. They will rather react by taking a chance and hoping that they will get away with it than to act in the right way and face the consequences. So what are some of those fears?

Fear of embarrassment

People have pride and they don’t like to be embarrassed. They want to save face so they try and hide away their mistakes, mishaps or lack of knowledge. Who wants to look like the village idiot amongst his coworkers? But that is exactly where they are wrong. Wont the embarrassment be bigger when the truth is finally revealed? What is worse, being injured and embarrassed or just embarrassed?

Fear of discipline

Nobody enjoys being disciplined, I know I don’t. Being disciplined, especially in front of others are embarrassing and you might feel that you have placed yourself in a bad light with your superiors. Employees might fear disciplinary action and loss of jobs especially if it’s not the first time that they have had an incident. Yes there are times when severe discipline is required but that needs to be determined by the severity and outcome of the incident investigation and it should not be used as a tool to get rid of unwanted employees.

The fear of standing out in the crowd

Who wants to stand out in a crowd and be seen as somebody that goes against the norm of the crowd? People as a norm will rather follow the crowd than go against it. It is easier and less pressure.

Whatever the fear is, and there are than mentioned here, is a big influence in a culture. It can create a very negative and incorrect culture. It can cause workers to be injured, time to be lost and equipment to be damaged or lost.

So how do we put it into practice? Lets read about it in the next article.

Health and Safety culture

Is Health and Safety a culture or an enforcement?

Culture can be defined as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values and attitudes, but where does these believes and values come from? Some of them has come come a long way with us, influenced by our parents and the upbringing that they gave us, some come from habits and a way of doing things that we developed ourselves over the years. Immaterial of where they come from they are a part of who we are and how we go about our day to day tasks.

We all have our own personal and family culture but then we also have a business culture. Our business culture is partially developed by our past experiences and partially by the culture of the company where we are employed.

So how is Health and Safety seen in your workplace?

The biggest influence in the Health and safety culture is top management. If they don’t have a full buy-in then nobody will and they can’t expect them to have either. When management sees Health and Safety as a grudge purchase the negative view will flow down to all levels within the company. If management sees Health and Safety as a protection mechanism for their employees, equipment and business their attitudes will change and it will and have a positive influence on their subordinates.

Even though management might see Health and Safety in a positive light the employees might not. It comes down to the way that the Health and safety culture is developed, established and grown. It should form part of the company’s safety Management System.

So why does employees not buy into the companies Health and safety culture?

Lets have a look at that in our next article

SACPCMP registration debate continues

Can I provide my clients with a full service or not?

The debate about SACPCMP registration for construction safety practitioners has been a hot topic since promulgation of the 2014 Construction Regulations. Some are for it and some are not.

The matter of the fact remains that you have to register if you are a Health and Safety practitioner in the construction industry but there are different view points when it comes to Health and Safety consultants that are not involved in the construction industry in a full time capacity.

I asked Sheqafrica a question about safety files, risk assessments and incident accident investigations. You can read the full blog at Sheqafrica.

Risk Controls

Risk controls are an important part of the risk assessment process. Risk control techniques are meant to minimise the significant risks to which individuals and organisations are exposed to. By assessing the effectiveness of the controls we can have a measured indication of the level of risk exposure and they can help to identify additional requirements for the control of risks.

The first step will be to identify existing controls that are already in place. A very common and practical way to categorize controls is as follows. Please note that this is an example list only and not an extensive list:

  • Elimination
    • This is to totally eliminate (remove) a risk
  • Engineering Controls
    • Replacing broken or missing safety guards
    • Installing safety barriers
    • Redesign equipment that are used for the activity
  • Administrative Controls
    • Implementing permits to work
    • Registers (For control measures)
    • Inspections
    • Preventive maintenance schedules
  • PPE Controls
    • PPE and Clothing
    • Selecting correct types of PPE
    • PPE surveys

Quantifiable benefits

A cost-benefit analysis should be performed hand in hand with the above methods of risk control. A cost-benefit is a quantification of the financial benefit the business is getting in the effort it is expending. Some examples of a logical process can be as follows:

  • What will it cost the organisation for each of the extra control measures that are proposed. Make sure that all costs are calculated and that all cost items are considered.
  • Determine the benefits would be to the business. Not all benefits will be monitory, some might be time saved, benefit to employees, benefit to the community, etc.

Non-quantifiable benefits

Don’t forget the non-quantifiable factors. Financial costs and benefits should not be the only factors to look at. Such non-quantifiable factors can for instance be legal compliance. Imagine the cost implications should your organisation be panelised by a client or fined by the Department of Labour. These fines and penalties will outweigh any benefit that our business might have had by not implementing the risk controls.

Critical controls

Despite any advantages or disadvantages that might have been identified it is critical to identify critical controls. This implies that that the controls that are identified to most likely reduce the risk to a tolerable level should be identified and communicated individually.

Remember that the risk assessments and the control measures are only the first two steps in a safety management system. Risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that your business has the safest possible working conditions for your employees and the surrounding community.

Please feel free to contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

 

 

 

 

Requirements for a Risk Assessment (Part 2)

Step 3 – Converting hazards to risks

Now that the hazards have been identified we can move on to convert those hazards to risks. Remember that it vital that the risks are assessed and not the hazards! The important part is to work systematically; this will ensure that you have an end result containing the steps of the process (the activity), the hazards and the resulting risk.

A structured way of doing the conversion process can be done to determine which hazards can get out of control. Always think of the “what if?” It can be done as follows:

  • Non-conformance or management failure
  • Training and skills deficiency
  • Design defects
  • Inadequate or inappropriate maintenance
  • Substandard physical conditions
  • Illegal acts
  • Containment failure

Always consider the human factor and take the normal, abnormal and emergency activities in consideration.

Step 4 – Ranking risks

Now it’s time for the risks to be analysed and then to be ranked. The purpose of analysing the risks is to objectively establish the priority of the actions that will be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk to a tolerable state.

The evaluation process of the risk assessment is a very important part because it will determine the rest of the processes within the risk assessment. If you do it half-heartedly the rest of the risk assessment could become totally invalid or ineffective.

Remember that this is an example only and does not contain the risk rating matrix and extensive details of ranking a risk, it’s for illustrative purposes only. An example of a method of rating a risk can be done as follows:

  • Severity for safety
    • Catastrophic
    • Critical
    • Serious
    • Marginal
    • Negligible
  • Frequency for safety
    • Frequent
    • Regular
    • Occasional
    • Uncommon
    • Rare
  • Exposure for safety
    • Extensive
    • Widespread
    • Significant
    • Restricted
    • Negligible
  • Severity for Occupational health
    • Catastrophic
    • Critical
    • Serious
    • Marginal
    • Negligible
  • Frequency for Occupational health
    • Frequent
    • Regular
    • Occasional
    • Uncommon
    • Rare
  • Exposure for Occupational health
    • Extensive
    • Widespread
    • Significant
    • Restricted
    • Negligible
  • Severity for environment
    • Catastrophic
    • Critical
    • Serious
    • Marginal
    • Negligible
  • Potential ecological and social impact
    • Catastrophic
    • Critical
    • Serious
    • Marginal
    • Negligible
  • Frequency for environment
    • Frequent
    • Regular
    • Occasional
    • Uncommon
    • Rare
  • Exposure for environment
    • Extensive
    • Widespread
    • Significant
    • Local
    • Restricted
    • Negligible

Step 6 – Evaluating effectiveness of existing controls

The best way of evaluating the extensiveness of existing controls is to determine if the risk rating has come down or have moved up. Current stats of incidents can also be examined to see if there has been a decline from the time of before the control measures have been put in place. Only time will tell if your control measures have been as effective as you intended it to be.

Make sure to read our next blog on Control measures for a Risk Assessment. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

Requirements for a Risk Assessment (Part 1)

There are 5 basic requirements for a risk assessment.

  1. Preparation
  2. Hazard Identification
  3. Converting hazards to risks
  4. Ranking risks
  5. Evaluating effectiveness of existing controls

 

Step 1 – Preparation

 

Team members need to:

  • Understand the methods that will be used to gather information and they need to know how to assess the information.
  • They must have the ability to identify workplace hazards.
  • They must understand the difference between physical hazards, behaviour based hazards and procedural hazards.
  • Understand the hazards of energy sources in the workplace.

Obtaining process flow diagrams and site plans will be a great help in the preparation of the risk assessments. They will help you to understand the way the jobs are performed and organised as well as what type of machinery is used.

Step 2 – Identifying hazards

To systematically isolate the hazards the recommended method is to define the boundaries of the risk assessment. Define where the process that’s being assessed begins and where it ends:

  • Do an events and conditions charting. Use the existing company documents to map the theoretical geographical area of the tasks in a process.
  • Determine if there are any deviations from the documented process.
  • What is the energy sources present in the processes? Some examples of energy sources may be:
    • Mechanical
    • Electrical
    • Kinetic
    • Gravitational
    • Chemical
    • Noise

Make a list of these energy sources that you have identified and state what it is that contains these energy sources. At this stage you should not try and determine if an energy source has a potential risk, it is only about establishing the hazards for now.

Make sure to read part 2 on Requirements for a Risk Assessment. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

General Principles of a Risk Assessment Process

A risk assessment process helps us to identify who or what can be harmed and in what way it can cause harm. As soon as we have identified the hazards we can then prioritize them and the associated risks in order to decide how we are going to respond to them so that they can be removed, minimized or controlled.

It involves more than just setting up a risk assessment team and following processes. There are specific steps to follow.

That is why the workplace risk assessment process should:

  • All risks that arise from process and work related activities should be considered.
  • It must be appropriate to the nature of the process or work activities and the level of the detail within the risk assessment should match the level of risk.
  • It should be a systematic process that assesses:
    • Minor risks with growth potential;
    • Significant risks;
    • All measures and controls;
    • The lack of measures and controls and the reasons for their lack or nonexistence;
    • All aspects and processes of the work activity;
  • Consider both routine and non-routine activities and processes.
  • Changes to the work environment should be considered.
  • Different risk groups and individuals must be considered.
  • Normal, abnormal and emergency procedures and processes must be considered.

The risk assessment process must be a structured, practical system that encourages participation to ensure that it works sufficiently.

Make sure to read our next blog on Requirements for a Risk Assessment. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

The importance of risk assessments

It is vitally important that the risk assessment process needs to be of high quality, if it is not the program will have a week base from which to work. Risks form part of the entire organisation at every level and are part of every function or activity.
The level and intensity of the baseline risk assessment should not be determined by the amount of money available but by the nature of the organizations’ operations.
It has been proven by history that some of the major disasters could have been prevented by a proper risk assessment. A risk assessment is a proactive approach and is the most effective method to highlight latent defects in a workplace that, in conjunction with other hazards, could lead to incidents. That is the reason why the risk assessment must be done in as much detail as possible and thereafter high-priority risks needs to be taken through the next proses of issue-based risk assessments.
When risk assessments are done properly they can save lives, prevent injury and prevent damage to property or equipment. They can become money savers instead of an expense.
Make sure to read our next blog on General Principles Of A Risk Assessment Process. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

What is a risk assessment?

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) is now generally accepted as the basis of any meaningful risk management plan of your entire business. A risk assessment forms the first two parts of your safety management system.

Before we start we need to look at a few definitions:

  • Hazard
    • The OHS Act defines a hazard as a source of or exposure to danger. It can further be said that a hazard is a condition, activity, object (material) or substance that has the ability to cause harm in certain circumstances.
  • Risk (As defined by NOSA)
    • Risk is the chance or likelihood of a hazard causing harm to a person, to property or the environment. The extend of the risk depends not only on the severity of potential harm to a person or the environment but also on other factors such as the number of people exposed, etc. Simply put: if one thinks of the hazard as that which has the potential to source harm, then the risk is the actual harm that may occur as a result.

Three of the types of risk assessments are baseline, issue-based and continuous risk assessments.

  • Baseline risk assessments:
    • The baseline risk assessment is done to determine the risk for the first time, i.e. to establish a broad-based risk profile. Depending on the results of the baseline risk assessment specific aspects or issues will be highlighted. The baseline risk assessment must be reviewed on regular intervals to re-establish the baseline profile as to minimize the risks in the organisation.
  • Issue-based risk assessments
    • This is when baseline risk assessments are assessed in far more detail using the appropriate issue-based risk assessment techniques such as HAZOP, FMEA, Fault Tree Analysis, etc.
    • An issue-based risk assessment will be performed due to highlighted aspects or issues, new processes, new machines or the ongoing risk assessments in an organisation.
  • Continuous risk assessments
    • These risk assessments are part of all forms formal and informal inspections and observations that take place daily or on regular intervals.

Make sure to read our next blog on the importance of risk assessments. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements.

What to do with your Health and Safety inspection sheets after you have completed them

Now that we have established Why you have to do Health and Safety inspection sheets, How to do Health and Safety inspection sheets and what the types of Health and Safety inspection sheet we need to know what to do with them.

It depends what happened during your inspection. If there were no findings they can be safely filed and stored until you review them before the next Health and Safety inspection or Safety Committee meeting.

If there were findings there are a few processes that needs to take place but those processes will depend on the type of findings. Let me give some examples.

  • Broken tools and equipment:
    • It must be brought under the attention of the direct supervisor or manager.
    • Equipment and tools must be removed, repaired or replaced;
    • Must be discussed in the next Safety Committee meeting;
    • The finding must be reinspected on a set date;
  • New hazards identified:
    • If the hazard is serious work should be stopped;
    • It must be brought under the attention of the direct supervisor or manager;
    • The relevant risk assessments must be revised;
    • Control measures must be put in place;
    • The findings must be discussed at the next Safety Committee meeting;
    • A followup inspection must be performed on a predetermined date;

These are only two of the many processes that can take place. All inspection records must be safely stored for future use. They will be used as evidence in an investigation should there be an accident or incident.

I hope that these write-ups have assisted you regarding Health And Safety Inspection Sheets. Please contact us at info@safetyfile.co.za for assistance with your Health and Safety.

Types of Health and Safety inspection sheets

There is a big verity of inspection sheets that will serve different purposes and have different frequencies of inspection. The entire scope of Health and Safety inspection sheets are too big for a write-up like this but I will provide you with some examples and explanations to give you an idea of what types of inspection sheets can be used.

  • Daily site inspection sheets;
    • They are most common in the construction industry but they are also widely used in the manufacturing, mining and oil & gas industries
    • They will be performed daily.
    • Their purpose is to ensure that the area / site is safe to work and to see if there is anything out of the ordinary.
  • Hand tool register and inspections sheets are for all hand operated equipment that is not motorized or electrically operated;
    • They are performed monthly
    • Examples of hand tools are screwdrivers, spanners, pliers, etc.
  • Portable electric equipment inspection sheets are for all hand operated tools and equipment that is motorized or uses electric current as a source of power;
    • These inspection sheets are done daily.
    • Examples of portable electric equipment are extension leads, drill machines, grinders, kettles, earns, etc.
  • Scaffold inspection sheets;
    • They fall into a category of infrequent inspections.
    • Scaffolding will be inspected under the following circumstances –
      • After erecting the scaffolding for the first time;
      • Before it is used after was left unattended overnight, over public holidays or weekends;
      • After heavy winds or storms;
      • After mobile scaffolding was moved to another location;
  • There are also some specialized inspection sheets i.e. –
    • Blasting inspection sheets;
    • Excavation inspection sheets;
    • Demolition inspection sheets;
  • Here is a list of more examples of Health and Safety inspection sheets that can be used:
    • Air compressor inspection checklist;
    • Generator inspection sheet;
    • Vehicle daily inspection sheet;
    • Fire equipment inspection sheets;
    • SHE Rep monthly inspection sheet;
    • Hygiene inspection;
    • Facilities inspection sheet;

The list can go on and on but as I mentioned in the beginning, the scope is very wide and too big for a blog. Contact us today at info@safetyfile.co.za for assistance with your Health and Safety. We are here to help you.

How to do Health and Safety inspection sheets

Before we begin it must be noted that there is a big difference between an inspection and an audit. An inspection is performed frequently and on a regular basis by the SHE Rep or the legally appointed person or operator of the tools or equipment. Audits are performed less frequently, usually every 3 to 4 months by a senior employee or by an external auditor.

It must also be noted that there are three types of inspections. The first is a Planned Job Observation, the second is an inspection after an accident or incident and the third is a general routine inspection. We will be discussing the third type of inspection.

Prepare for the inspection

The first step of your inspection is not the actual inspection but to prepare and plan for the inspection. Make sure that you have set out a plan of action of what exactly you are going to inspect, when you are going to do the inspection, how you are going to do the inspection and who is going to be involved with the inspection.

Inspect previous inspection sheets and familiarise yourself with the findings and notes of these inspections. Familiarise yourself with the hazards previously identified and understand the work procedures. Make use of assistance if you are in any way unsure of the work procedures, tools or equipment that you will be inspecting. Make sure that you use the correct inspection form for the inspection. Notify the supervisor / manager of the inspection before the inspection.

Conduct the investigation

Introduce yourself to the relevant employees where the health and safety inspection is going to take place. Explain to them the reasons for the inspection and ask them for assistance. Making use of the employee will make the inspection easier and will make the employee feel appreciated and important.

When starting the inspection you must always write down the inspectors name and the date of the inspection. Use your notes of the previous inspections done and hazards that were identified. Inspect to see if previously noted findings have been resolved and if it is sufficient if resolved. Get feedback from the employee or operator. Do an analysis to see if there are new hazards or if the existing hazards have increased or decreased in potentially dangerous situations.

Make detailed notes of your health and safety inspection. Make drawings if necessary. Take photos to support evidence. Ensure that you have done the health and safety inspection from or possible angles and that all possible scenarios have been covered. Think out of the box. Look for possible cover-ups from employees, supervisors or managers. Don’t be intimidated by their presence or line of authority.

Our next blog will be on the different types of health and safety inspection sheets. Feel free to share and comment on this blog.

Contact us today at info@safetyfile.co.za for assistance with your workplace inspections. We are here to help you.

Why do Health And Safety Inspection Sheets

Health and Safety inspection sheets can be seen in a negative way but there are reasons for them. They are not there just to keep employees busy or because the legislation requires you to do them. It goes much further than that.

Inspection forms should form part of your Health and Safety Management System as well as your prevention program. They provide you with a record system that will assist you in numerous ways, they can help to prevent employee injuries and loss of money or loss of production because your tools or equipment broke and you were not even aware of any defective equipment in your workplace because your employees simply neglected to inform you.

Employee safety can be improved by identifying possible hazards and implementing safeguarding measures. It is cheaper to prevent an incident than it is to retrain a new employee or loss of production due to an incident.

Inspection records can also be used to protect a business after an accident or incident. They will serve as a tracking system by the Department Of Labour while doing an investigation into an incident. The inspection sheet can then be used as proof that the equipment was inspection according to legislation and that the employer was not negligent in its operations.

Health and Safety inspection sheets has an even bigger and wider role as set out in this article but is to detailed to discuss in this forum. Contact us today at info@safetyfile.co.za for assistance with your workplace inspections. We are here to help you.

Safety File Index

The most confusing part part for many people when they compile a safety file for the first time is the contents and that’s why they want a safety file index.

The question that I get asked most often is for an example safety file or for a “Generic” safety file.The contents of a safety file will vary from site to site and from industry to industry. There is no general “Generic” safety file.

There are however documents in a safety file that will be in all safety files, no matter what industry you are in or what work will be performed on site. The biggest influence on the contents of a safety file is the OHS Act and Regulations and then of course the client site specifications (for construction sites).

The contents of the file and it’s index relating to the contents can become a very long and in depth list but for simplicity reasons I will give a very BASIC index example. Note that this is just for informational purposes and should only be used as a guideline.

1.Administration
a.Mandatory agreement
b.Emergency Plan and Procedures
c.Tax Clearance Certificate
d.Letter of Good Standing
e.Client health and safety specifications
f.SHE policy

2.    Plans (A few examples)
a.SHE plan
b.Fall protection plan
c.Emergency evacuation plan

3.    Risk assessments

4.    Legal Appointments

5.    Registers and inspections

6.    Toolbox talks (A few examples)
a.Ladders
b.Hand Tools
c.First Aid
d.Safety Signs
e.Snake Awareness
f.Road Safety Vision
g.Living with HIV AIDS

7.    Personal
a.I.D. copies
b.Qualifications
c.Medicals

8.    COID
a.Incident Reporting Procedure
b.Incident Recording
c.Accident / Incident Report
d.Motor Vehicle Accident Report
e.Resumption Report
f.W.CI.2

9.    Acts & regulations

As I said, the list can become long and detailed. This is only an extract of an index. There are a lot of details that can only be done once an analysis of your scope of work has been done and the scope of work compared to the OHS Act & Regulations.

I hope this has helped you to gain a better understanding of the contents of a Safety File.

Please contact us, we are here to help.

 

 

What is a safety file?

You have submitted your quotation and just received the confirmation that the project is yours, maybe the excitement is even bigger because it’s the first time that you are doing a project for this client. It’s a big client and you have been trying for ages to get onto their vendor list, but the excitement is short lived, they have asked you for your safety file. Your what?

Confusion sets in

You have no idea what a safety file is or where to start. You open Google and start searching, you think this cant be so difficult, it’s probably only some type of document that they want. Then you start realizing it’s not so straightforward. You click on link after link on your search results, you read blogs, you search more and more but you cant find the quick solutions that you where hoping for. The more you search the more you get confused and the more your frustration grows. You just can’t seem to find a clear description of what a safety file is.

You are not alone

You are not the only one asking this question. Most contractors, especially the smaller contractors, have no idea what a safety file is, why it exists, what should be in it or what it is used for. Hundreds upon hundreds of contractors are in the exact same situation. Some of them due to pure ignorance, others due to a lack of knowledge.

The problem

For many years contractors, big and small, got away with presenting a safety file when they perform a job for a client. It was in general an accepted practice to quote or tender for a project, get the job and get on site and do the work. Over the years this started changing. Every day more workers got injured on sites and more fatalities occurred. The Department Of Labour simply had no option but to get more strict with the enforcement of Health And Safety Regulations.

The main contractors where the first to get up to date with their health and safety purely because the spotlight was on them and not on the smaller contractors. The result is that subcontractors in general were left uneducated regarding Health and Safety and specifically safety files.

So what is a safety file then?

In short it is a file that consists of a collection of documents regarding your business, the type of work you do and completed for that specific site, yes that’s correct, every safety file is site specific and cannot be used for all sites.

Let’s see what Legislation says. The Construction Regulations defines it as follows –  “health and safety file” means a file, or other record containing the information in writing required by these Regulations;”

In Construction Regulation 7 (1)(b) it stipulates that a principal contractor and contractor must – “open and keep on site a health and safety file, which must include all documentation required in terms of the Act and these Regulations, which must be made available on request to an inspector, the client, the client’s agent or a contractor; …”

What it comes down to

Every contractor, principal, big or small must have a completed safety file for the construction site that they are working on. It does not make a difference if you are new to contracting or have done the same work for a 100 years, whether you have 1 or 1000 employees on site. There is no legal way around it.

But what if you use subcontractors?

The same implies. They become a contractor and must have their own safety file. There is a very general misconception that you can make use of subcontractors and just slot them into your safety file as if they were your own employees, the truth is that you cannot and should not. You might get away with it a few times, until their is an incident on a site. The subcontractor is an entity on it’s own, they are not your employees.

They are not covered by your Workman’s Compensation and in most cases not by your Public Liability Insurance. In short, you are playing with the future of your business if you make use of subcontractors and they are slotted into your safety file without having any file or records of their own or even worse, You don’t even have a safety file of your own.

You can watch the video version here.

So what is in a safety file

That will be the topic of our next blog but in the meantime please contact us with all of your Health And safety queries, concerns or questions.

We are here to help.