Would your construction site pass the 'safety file' test?
A safety file contains more than just a safety plan and a few registers. It is to your construction site, what the constitution is to a state. It holds everything together. But like the constitution, it can be very broad.
At any time, an inspector could arrive on your site to do an inspection. To know if your site will handle his test, you first need to know what should be in a safety file. We break it down and simplify it into three parts.
What does the law say about a safety file?
As per the Construction Regulations in the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993,every contractor is required to open a health and safety file that needs to be kept on site.It must have all the necessary documentation (in terms of the provisions of the Act). The file needs to be readily available to the principal contractor, client agents and inspectors.
The three essential sections in a safety file
1. Safety management
This first part is the foundation and looks at managing health and safety on your construction site. This section is the 'go to' for your health and safety staff. In this section is your risk assessment and safety plan.
It also includes your fall protection and emergency plans. Should something happen, do your employees know where to go? This section deals with specifically with answering that question. Company policies also go under this tab.
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2. Employee roles
This part of the safety file outlines the roles and responsibilities of staff. It deals with delegating duties. It answers the question of who does what in implementing the safety plan. Some of the vital roles to include are that of a safety officer and constructions work supervisor. You need to appoint the most competent people into these roles. Use the employees training, experience and qualifications as guidelines to fill the roles.
3. Safety compliance and maintenance
It's not enough to only have plans in place. You need to implement them. The last part of your safety file deals with ensuring compliance of the first two parts. It holds your safety programme together. This section includes work area registers. These address rules around working at heights or with scaffolding. Your equipment registers also goes under this section. Another important batch of documents that is this section are site induction
documents. These inform employees and visitors to your site on any possible hazards.
Now you have the building blocks to a safety file
These three sections are the building blocks to compile a safety file. You will need to tweak the content to suit your site. You can also add other documents that are part of your safety programmes. Using this structure will ensure you pass the 'safety file test' every time.
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