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 for assistance with your workplace inspections. We are here to help you.

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.

Department Of Labour Requirements

If you don’t display summaries of the EE Act and BCEA in your workplace you can be punished by law.

By omitting to perform these simple and cheap duties can result in a Department Of Labour inspector ordering you to stop work immediately. No business owner wants this!

It is immaterial how many employees you have, it can be 1, 10 or more than a 100, as soon as you start employing staff members you are obliged by law to display these Acts. The labor law is crystal clear about this.

The law stipulates that you must display the following Acts in such a way that it is visible and accessible to all employees:

  • Summary of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)
  • Summary of the Employment Equity Act (EEA)
  • Summary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act)
  • Summary of the Skills Development Act (SDA) 

When you buy and display these four acts you will be adhering to and respecting the current legislation because you will be providing your employees with the information and safety requirements that the law requires of you to provide them with. It will show your employees and the Department Of Labour that you respect your employees rights. In return your employees will  appreciate the respect for the fairness that you treat them with.

These signs won’t cost you a lot but can change your employees attitudes towards their workplace and keep the doors of your business open.

Please visit SafetyFile for all your Health And Safety requirements or contact us.

We are there to help.