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