What is a Safe Work Method Statement?

 A safe work method statement, also known as a SWMS (pronounced ‘swims’) is a written document that communicates to construction workers how high-risk construction work will be completed safely. It is basically a risk assessment that identifies the hazards and risks associated with various tasks and describes how they can be controlled in order to ensure the safety of all workers and others who may be harmed as a result of the work. What constitutes high-risk construction work is defined in detail in the regulations of each state’s workplace safety and health legislation.

When creating a safe work method statement, make sure it is an easy document to read and that it moves along in logical steps. It should not be too broad and skip over tasks and miss out on identifying hazards and how to control them, but it also should not be too detailed in order to be difficult to understand.

If you don’t have the time or the knowledge to write your own safe work method statement, there are many free safe work method statement examples and templates available online that may be useful for business owners.

What are SWMS and how do I write one using a free template? will help you if want to write your own safe work method statement using a free template.

In order to ensure that employees have a copy of safe work method statements, Safe-R Outcomes recommends that digital versions be emailed to them. We also recommend that all contractors receive a copy of the safe work method statement before beginning any work. It is recommended that you review your safe work method statement on a regular basis, or at the beginning of each job (depending on your scope of work), and that each employee sign the document after it has been reviewed to demonstrate that they have read it and understand how they will work safely.

Remember that most states have specific legislation governing what information must be included in a safe work method statement for construction projects. If you would rather trust the experts, you can check out our range of safe work method statements which are specific to each trade in the construction industry. 

You may be subject to a fine as well as having your construction site closed to all work until you have put in place a safe work method statement. This could result in your project being shut down for several hours or even days while you wait for the inspector to give you permission to resume work.

What is the purpose of a Safe Work Method Statement?

Construction is an inherently risky industry with a very high rate of injuries and fatalities. Building sites can be hectic with many different trades with different safety procedures all working around each other at the same time. Safe work method statements are there to help everyone on site understand who is doing what and how they are doing it. A safe work method statement is also an easy way to show who is providing what control measures such as scaffolding. So, the purpose is to document and communicate everything a worker needs to know to do their job safely in an easy to understand way that is not full of technical jargon. 

When it comes to construction or building sites, it is an important component of the overall safety plan. Its purpose is to provide clear instructions on what needs to be done, how it will be done, and who will be responsible for doing it.

Many Australian states, including New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, require one to be in place by law.

What should be included in a Safe Work Method Statement?

It is necessary to include all relevant information about the job you are performing in a safe work method statement. Your content should include information on the hazards involved, the procedures to be followed, the controls to be implemented, personal protective equipment to be worn, emergency procedures to be followed, and communication methods. You should use a risk matrix to help you decide the how low or high the risk for each task is, and then the hierarchy of control to decide what are the best options for controlling the risks.

Hierarchy of controlpyramid

Because there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” safe work method statement, your particular one should be tailored to the specific job at hand. It is critical to collaborate with the Principal Contractors and other tradespeople on the job site to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the SWMS before work begins. You must also make sure that your safe work method statement doesn’t contradict what is in another safe work method statement on the site. If they do contradict each other, it can be confusing for workers, and increase the risk of an incident occurring. 

As a result, it is critical to review and update your safe work method statement on a regular basis as necessary. Changes in weather conditions, the introduction of new hazards, or the updating of safety procedures may necessitate the revision of your safe work method statement.

Preparation and communication are essential when working safely on a construction or building site. A safe work method statement is an important part of the planning process, and it can help to keep everyone on the job as safe as it possibly can be.

There may be a safe work method statement for each specific task at some sites, while others will have one for the job as a whole or for each specific trade. We at Safe-R Outcomes strive to make things as simple as possible for our customers, which is why the majority of our safe work method statements are written for specific trades and cover all of the tasks that they may encounter in the course of their day to day work.

digital swms

Your safe work method statement should be kept in a safe place where it can be accessed by anyone who needs it, whether they are employees, visitors, or workplace safety inspectors. You can keep a hard copy in your vehicle or in the electrical box, or you can keep a digital/soft copy on your phone or tablet as a PDF or download it to your device.

Whenever possible, it is best to work from the original rather than a photocopy if you are working from a hard copysafe work method statement . You should always mark any changes you make to your safe work method statement on the original and keep it with you so that it can be referred to in the future if you need to.

Remove sections of your safe work method statement by drawing a line through them in pencil and noting what has been removed at the end of the document. If there are more than one page, cross reference the first page and include the words “whited out pages” below the references to distinguish them. Don’t forget to date and sign off on each and every version of your safe work method statement! Consequently, if something goes wrong, you can show that you reviewed your safe work method statement and when it was done. It is really important that you can provide up to date information to inspectors, police and lawyers if required. 

Keep in mind that if you are working from a hard copy of your safe work method statement, you should always have the original on hand while on the job. Assuming you are working from a digital or soft copy, make a backup in case anything happens to your device.

The most effective way to ensure that everyone adheres to your safe work method statement is to have them all read, understand, and agree to it in advance. You can accomplish this by holding a meeting before beginning work or by including it as part of your induction process, for example. Posting your safe work method statement in a visible location where all employees can see it is also a good way to remind everyone of their responsibilities in a safe and efficient environment.

It is your responsibility to take action if someone does not follow your safe work method statement. This could include anything from giving verbal instructions and direction to the worker to temporarily suspending the job until the problem is fixed. If the employee refuses to comply, you may need to bring the situation to the attention of their supervisor or employer.


2 Comments

safe work method statements · 11/07/2022 at 9:25 pm

This is informative stuff. In the WHS market you cant copout on quality, it could possibly kill another person!

    Safe-R Outcomes Admin · 14/07/2022 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks! Yes, absolutely it can and still does unfortunately

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