IS THERE A NEED FOR CHANGE? : Hard Copy Safety Files and our Future


A recent internal study conducted at Vanguard brought to our attention (sadly) that in order to satisfy the growing demand for hard copy safety files on job sites in South Africa, Vanguard last year purchased and printed in excess of 1 million pages of paper. Based on current trends we are expecting this to increase to over 2 million within the next three years.


Not only is this a hand brake to efficiency, for all of us at Vanguard this is a red flag from an environmental impact point of view.


With safety and the environment at the forefront of the culture at Vanguard, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to justify the continuous use of millions and millions of pages of paper in this way.


Further to the investigation, we noted the following:


  1. A large portion (up to 15%) of the printed pages used in hard copy safety files consist of re-prints as a result of changes in scope, last minute changes in personnel, unannounced changes in the safety protocol on site, errors (for example typos and spelling) etc.
  2. On many sites where Vanguard does repeat work, we note the increasing problem of safety file storage. There is often no space for current files because of the extent to which old files are being kept in cupboards and bookcases in the clients’ offices, long forgotten. This extreme accumulation of waste paper over time is in self an environmental challenge.
  1. Although difficult to quantify exactly how much time is lost, it is apparent that a large amount of time is being lost in the correcting, re-printing and updating of hard copy files. Especially where the onsite protocol is that: no work can commence until the file is correct and approved. From the client’s point of view this is very often an unnecessary cost to them as our plant and staff stand down waiting for the hard copy correction to be made.


With the sole purpose of providing a solution that would enable Vanguard to address these issues on site whilst retaining our commitment to utmost safety standards whilst at the same time boosting our efficient to the benefit of all of our clients, we arrived at the following solution


Andries Agenbag, the head of SHEQ at Vanguard explains, “In conjunction with some of our biggest clients and in line with our ISO9001 protocols, we have been working on the development of a digital/electronic safety file which adequately covers all the criteria of a hard copy version.

I am now pleased to say that our hard work has paid off and the first version of what we call the “Vanguard Integrated Management System” (VIMS) is going on trial for a job at the Heineken Brewery in Meyerton in the first week of September. I must say thank you to Heineken who have seen the need for this change and agreed some time ago to work with us on the development of VIMS. We are now discussing the system with a number of our clients and there is currently a very positive interest the platform. I am very proud of the development and am confident that this could be a game changer for the industry going forward. “



To find out more about this system, please contact the Vanguard SHEQ department on +27 11 616 1800.





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