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14th February, 2012

CDM health and safety file contents and what should be included

* The health and safety file must now be prepared by the principal designer following the 2015 changes to the CDM Regulations.

The health and safety file is an important document required by the CDM regulations. It should be prepared by the CDM coordinator* and contains all relevant health and safety information needed to allow future construction work, and future use of the building (including cleaning and maintenance) to be carried out safely.

Information for the health and safety file is gathered off all CDM duty holders including the client, designers, the principal contractor and other contractors working on the project. It is therefore important that all CDM duty holders understand what should, and what shouldn't be included.

What the health and safety file should contain:

The CDM regulations require certain information to be included in the file, to alert future users and those carrying out work on the structure to the health and safety risks present. The exact information to be included will depend on the size and complexity of the project, but generally, information that it should contain includes:

  • A description of the project carried out, along with details of the location of the site
  • Information on residual hazards which remain and how they have been dealt with
  • Safe working loads of the structure and other key structural principles
  • Details of any hazardous materials used
  • Health and safety information relating to operation and maintenance of the structure including information required for safe cleaning and maintenance of the structure
  • Health and safety information relating to installed plant and equipment such as information regarding removal or dismantling
  • The location and nature of significant services, particularly hidden services
  • As built drawings of the structure, its plant and equipment

What the health and safety file shouldn't contain:

Your health and safety file should not be 'padded out' with irrelevant information. Information that has no impact on the future safe use of the structure or future construction works. For example, your health and safety file is not required to contain:

  • The pre-construction information - although relevant information from the PCI regarding residual risks (for example the asbestos survey if the asbestos is still in place) should be included
  • The construction phase plan, risk assessments, method statements or COSHH assessments from the completed project
  • Details regarding the normal operation of the existing structure that have no impact on health and safety
  • Construction phase accident statistics - these should be recorded by the principal contractor but have no place in the health and safety file
  • It is common practice to contain information on the CDM coordinator, client, and principal contractor - but it is optional to contain details on all the designers, contractors and suppliers used throughout the project
  • Contractual documents should not be contained in the health and safety file
  • Information about structures that have been demolished or hazardous materials that have been removed as part of the works should not be included unless there are implications for future works
  • Information contained in other documents does not need to be replicated in the health and safety file, instead it should be cross-referenced where relevant

Some items that are not required to be included in the health and safety file by the CDM regulations may be useful to the client, for example, maintenance manuals and operation information not related to health and safety.

In this case, it is good practice to include an operation and maintenance (O&M) manual, but within a separate section so that health and safety information is still easy to find and navigate, and is not lost within the file amongst all the other information.

Still unsure or need help with CDM on your project? Use our free CDM duty holder guides. Just want help with your health and safety file? Get started with our CDM health and safety file template.

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