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20th November, 2018

CDM Health And Safety File Contents (What You Should Include)

The health and safety file is an important document required by the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations. This CDM document is required on any project involving more than one contractor. It should be prepared by the Principal Designer 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.

The principal designer should agree to the structure and content of the health and safety file with the client at the start of the project so that everyone can be made aware of the information required, and it can be gathered throughout the project. As with other CDM documents, the health and safety file should be proportionate to the project. Larger more complex or higher risk projects are likely to need more information included within the health and safety file, for handover the client.

On project completion, the health and safety file will be passed to the client to keep and make available to anyone who needs it, so that health and safety requirements can be complied with on future projects. It should usually be retained for the lifetime of the building.

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:

Health and Safety File Contents List:

  • A description of the project carried out, along with details of the location of the site
    • Project description
    • Project team
    • Key dates
  • Information on residual hazards which remain and how they have been dealt with
    • Ground conditions
    • Asbestos
    • Fragile materials
    • Other residual hazards
  • 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 the 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

You can keep a record of the information received with our CDM health and safety file checklist.

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 client, principal designer 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
  • The 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.

The more organised and relevant the health and safety file is, the better it will be and more useful for helping future work be carried out safely.

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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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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