What is a safety file?
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. The subcontractor is an entity on it’s own, they are not your employees. They are not covered by your Workman’s Compensation and 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.
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