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Last edited 18 Jan 2021
What is a health and safety file for?
See also: Health and safety file.
The health and safety file (H&S File) is a Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) legislative requirement on all notifiable construction projects involving one or more contractor. It is a vital document that must be presented as part of the 'practical completion' of a construction project (the point at which the works are handed back to the client, ready for occupation). It contains information allowing future operations, cleaning, maintenance, alterations and demolition activities, to be carried out safely.
 Key responsibilities
The client’s duty is to ensure the principal designer (or nominated specialist provider) prepares the health and safety file and that this is reviewed and updated as the project progresses. At project completion, the client must retain the file and ensure it is made readily available to anyone who may need it. If the building is sold, the client must hand over the file to the individual or company that takes on the client duties.
The principle designer is responsible for preparing the health and safety file on behalf of the client, or where an external consultant is appointed, providing final sign-off of the completed file. The principle designer will liaise with the client and agree the content and structure of the file at the project outset. At project completion, the principle designer must present the updated file to the client.
The principal contractor plays a secondary role in ensuring the health and safety file is fit for purpose. They must supply the principal designer (or appointed specialist provider) with any information necessary for inclusion in the file. If the principle designer’s appointment finishes before the end of the project, the contractor must deliver the file along with any other documents stipulated, directly to the client at project completion.
 What information is required
It will typically include information regarding:
- Any hazards not eliminated through the design and construction processes and how they have been addressed i.e. surveys or other information concerning asbestos or contaminated land.
- Key structural principles and safe working loads for floors and roofs.
- Hazardous materials used i.e. special coatings and lead paints.
- Removal and dismantling of installed plant and equipment.
- Equipment provided for cleaning or maintaining the structure.
- The nature and location of significant services i.e. underground cables, gas supply equipment etc.
- Information and as built drawings of the building, its plant and equipment.
- Pre-construction information or the construction phase plan.
- Construction phase risk assessments, method statements and COSHH assessments.
- Details for the normal operation of the completed structure.
- Construction phase accident statistics.
- Contractual documents.
- Information about structures or parts of structures that have been demolished unless there are any implications for remaining or future structures, such as voids.
- Information contained in other documents, although relevant cross references should be included
The updated health and safety file must be presented to the client at the end of the project. It is important the client understands the structure and content of the file and its significance for any future works.
The client has a duty to retain the health and safety file and make it available to anyone who may need it for as long as it remains relevant. If the building is sold it should be passed on to the new owners and updated for any future works.
The file should be kept as a live document, typically over the course of a building’s life. It may be hosted electronically in the cloud, avoiding problems associated with paper copies such as loss or damage, whilst ensuring it is easily updatable and accessible.
--Createmaster 16:56, 12 Jun 2017 (BST)
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