A safe work method statement, also known as a SWMS (pronounced ‘swims’) is a written document that communicates to workers how high risk construction work is going to be completed safely. A SWMS identifies the hazards and risks associated with various tasks, and how they can be controlled to ensure the safety of all workers and others who may be affected by the work. What is considered high risk construction work is detailed in the regulations of each states WHS legislation.

A safe work method statement should be an easy to read document that progresses in logical steps. It should not be overly broad, as to skip over tasks so you miss identifying hazards, and how to control them, but also has no need to be too detailed so it is difficult to read.

Safe-R Outcomes recommends that SWMS be emailed to employees so they have a copy. The safe work method statement should be reviewed regularly, or at the start of each job (depending on the scope of works) and each employee should sign the reviewed document as evidence that they have read it, and understand how they will work safely.

There are many free safe work method statement examples and templates available online, that may be useful for business owners who don’t have the time or the knowledge to write their own. Bear in mind that most states have specific legislation about what needs to be contained within a safe work method statement for construction works.

You can receive a fine and you could also have your construction site closed to all works until you have put a safe work method statement in place. This could mean your project is closed down for hours or days until the inspector gives you permission to start work again.

Writing a safe work method statement can be time consuming and it can be difficult to decide what to include, and what to leave out.

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