10th September, 2020
The health and safety file is an important document required by the CDM regulations. Information for the health and safety file is gathered off all CDM duty holders, and it's important everyone understands what should be included. Here's a list of contents for the CDM health and safety file.
At the end of your construction project, you'll need to hand over a health and safety file. It's the final CDM document you will need. 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.
The CDM health and safety file is prepared by the principal designer (with input from the principal contractor and the rest of the project team). It 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.
Because most of the information needed for the health and safety file is created during the project, don't leave creating the health and safety file until the end of construction! 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:
What was the purpose of the project? What was built, installed or demolished? A quick description at the start of the health and safety file will help people in the future know what the health and safety file covers, and if it is relevant to them.
This section should include:
Are there any residual hazards (hazards that remain on the site) that may affect people in the future use, maintenance, cleaning or demolition of the work? For example, did you leave in place any hazardous materials? Was asbestos left undisturbed? Did the ground investigation highlight any issues?
Has the project changed an existing structure, or created a new structure? The client and future building users and maintainers need to know about any adjustments and limitations of the structure.
It's not just old hazards that may remain on the site that future users need to be aware of. What about the materials you have installed? Future building users might not know from looking at a material that it is hazardous, but you know all the about the materials you have used, and passing the information on could prevent ill health in the future. Do you need to provide health and safety information for:
The CDM health and safety file isn't the same as the operation and maintenance manual (O&M). But you should include health and safety specific operation and maintenance information here too.
What comes up must come down. And just as you have managed health and safety when building, the same must be done when removing and dismantling the structure and the things inside it. Installed equipment will be replaced and removed, and eventually, the building might be too.
Services are a health and safety concern on any project because they are often hidden. In walls. Under floors. In the ground. You can help reduce the risks to future building and site owners by providing this information for your project, as you know where things have been installed. Where cables have been run. Where access points are. Where shut off valves are located.
The final plans for the project show what has been built, where plant and equipment have been installed, where access to voids, shafts and other serviceable parts of the building are.
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.
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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