For contractors who choose to handle their own health and safety when working on a construction site and make use of a health and safety file template, you may want to pay attention to the following.
There is nothing wrong with taking this approach but it’s important to ensure that you comply with all the laws and regulations as well as follow your client’s safety spec.
What You Will Need
When contractors operate on a site they would typically need a health and safety file. This is NOT the same file used at their offices or workshops.
To set up a safety file you will need the following:
- Safety specifications from your client, construction regulation & health and safety act.
- Safety file including your safety plan.
- Risk Assessment on the work you will be doing on-site.
It’s important to keep in mind that no two sites will be the same and therefore your safety file and risk assessment can never be exactly alike. You must ensure that your risk assessment, safety plan, and safety file is site-specific.
Site-Specific Safety Plan
Before you can set up your safety plan you must first conduct a proper baseline risk assessment. This means that you have to look at the physical premises you will be carrying out your work, address the risks, and tell your client how you will be doing your work safely. In addition to this, you also need to ensure that you comply with the Construction Regulation as well as the Health and Safety Act.
The 2014 Construction Regulation requires that your safety file be site-specific and task-specific. This means that you cannot operate on a construction site without a safety plan.
Setting Up Your Safety File & Plan
Everyone involved in doing work on the site, including the business owners, should be involved in the safety process. Therefore as mentioned earlier there is nothing wrong with setting up your own safety documents.
Learning how to set up these documents with greatly benefit your company. Firstly, you will take a more hands- on approach to your health and safety within your company. Secondly, you will probably save a lot of money.
The quickest way to get started is to get hold of a Health and Safety File Template. This will give you a head start saving your hours of research, trial, and error. Once you have your health and safety file templates you can focus on setting up a safety system that complies with the Safety Act, Construction Regulation as well as your client specification.
Before you will be allowed to work on a site your client should first look at your safety file. If they are happy with it, they will allow you to start work. It is not uncommon for principal contractors to reject subcontractor’s files a few times. Therefore we always advise those who wish to take a DIY approach to their safety files to get familiar with what is required in the Health and Safety Act, Construction Regulations, and your safety specification provided by the client and principal contractor. If you have addressed and met all the requirements in these documents there is no reason your file should be rejected.
Training & Competency
Bear in mind you will have to prove competency. For example, you cannot appoint yourself as a risk assessor if you are not competent. You will be required to attach a certificate of competency with your appointment.
According to the Construction regulation ‘competent person’ means the following:
So you need to ensure that if a qualification and training are registered in the NQF you cannot simply write a letter of competency but rather the appointed person must get the training from a qualified, registered training provider. Make a list of the training you will need and ensure the appointed persons attend these training sessions and get the qualifications.
If you feel that spending time and money on getting a qualified risk assessor, fall protection planner etc. within your company there is an alternative solution. Why not outsource this to a company that specializes in this? This way you still save money on paying for an entire safety file and instead of getting bogged down with work you are not familiar with you can focus on getting your job done and getting paid.
There is nothing wrong with a DIY approach but it’s imperative that you understand what you are doing and meet all requirements. To save yourself time opt for a health and safety file template. Know what is required of you and ensure that your staff has the proper training. Rather outsource your risk assessment to a safety consulting company that has all the correct competency in place and focus on getting your crew on-site and get the job done on time.
Leave your questions in the comments below.