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This is one of our most asked questions. We know what business owners are looking for us to tell them, but unfortunately we can’t. You can be doing all the right things as far as reasonably practicable and have all your documents and licences etc in-place, but if something goes wrong you could still be questioned, sued or have your site shut down during an investigation.
Do not let any company or person try and tell that you are covered, as this would not only be incorrect advice, but would also put you and your business at risk!
What safety documents do is help ensure you are meeting your legal obligations and provide evidence you are managing safety as long as the work is being completed as per the law and what is in your safety documents.
Here are some examples…
If in your SWMS it says you are going to use particular controls for working at heights and you don’t, and if something happens or an inspector visits your site and sees you are not completing the work as stated then you are not actually being compliant. So you are not ‘covered’ even though you have the right documents.
If in your WHS management plan you have all the legal requirements and what is expected by employees, contractors and other workers but there is a culture of letting things slide or short cuts to be taken, your plan won’t save you if things go wrong.
You have everything in place as per legislation, plus do extra things like weekly checks of your site, conduct toolbox talks and regularly communicate WHS matters to workers and contractors. You ensure everyone completes their work as safely as is reasonably practicable and know what is expected of them. Despite all of this someone is injured. You are still not ‘covered’. There may still be an investigation, but you will be able to show evidence of doing all the right things, so less likely to be found negligent, charge and/or fined. And the worker may still be able to sue you, but again you’ll be able to show you did everything within the legal framework to ensure that workers safety, which may change the outcome of a common law claim against you or your business.
Fortunately, by having everything required in place you can reduce your exposure to being fined, site shut down and being sued.
Or if you are fined then your fine may be reduced because you were able to show what you were doing was reasonably practicable according to legislation.
You can download your documents from Safe-R Outcomes in Microsoft Word format, so you will be able to make any changes you require.
We all know that technology is moving ahead at an incredible speed. Most people today have a smart-phone that they carry with them at all times, and many site supervisors and Principal Contractors have tablets.
It’s been a long-held expectation that WHS documents are kept in the electrical box on site, but this has its own problems such as being stolen, misplaced or destroyed by weather.
In the legislation there is actually nothing to say how these documents should be presented, only that they should be easily accessible to anyone who needs them.
There is also the issue of being able to provide evidence that someone was given access to read the documents. By emailing the documents to workers, you will have evidence that you’ve supplied it to them. And it also allows for them to download it and keep it on their phone or tablet, if it’s required.
If you do high risk construction work then yes, you need a safe work method statement by law. Each state has different legislation in regard to what is considered high risk construction work which can make things confusing for builders and trade contractors who want to do the right thing. Here is some more information on what a SWMS is.
And not only is it difficult to find the information sometimes, it is then difficult to try and decide whether it applies to you. But generally, if you are working on a construction site, you are going to be doing some kind of high risk construction work, so it is best to have one, just in case.
Remember there is no monetary value placed on when a SWMS is required. Many clients believe that if a job is under a certain amount that it is not needed, this is false. Even if you are doing a job that costs $0 but you are doing high risk construction work, then under most states legislation you should have a SWMS for that work.
You can find out what a WHS Plan is here. In most states in Australia you need a WHS Plan when the project you are working on as the builder is worth more than $250 000. When you hit this mark you then become the Principal Contractor which makes you responsible under WHS law for a number of things, including having a WHS Management Plan.
However, just to make things confusing when the work is under $250 000 the legislation says you need to ensure the safety of workers, but it doesn’t tell you how to do it. That is why many builders and trade contractors who do smaller works will still ensure they have at least a basic WHS Plan.
They want to:
- Be able to share with workers and others what the expectations of them are, and
- If something goes wrong they want to be able to prove to inspectors, investigators, insurance companies, lawyers and courts that they were working safely and that they have the evidence of doing so
You may also be asked for a WHS management plan to do tenders, work for the government, work for insurance companies or even just large construction companies who want evidence that you have systems in place to work safely.
So as with safe work method statements you can see that for most businesses, having a WHS Plan puts them in a better position for many eventualities.
Refer to the above, but if you are here, then yes you probably need a safe work method statement!
Contrary to popular belief, you only need one SWMS to cover all the high risk work you are completing. The legislation sets this out very clearly, including what tasks are considered ‘high risk construction work’.
Here is an excerpt from Safe Work Australia website…
"One SWMS can be used for work that involves multiple high risk construction work activities, for example a work activity that requires using powered mobile plant, working at heights of more than 2 metres and working adjacent to a road used by traffic other than pedestrians. A SWMS is classed as an administrative control and is used to support higher order controls to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety, for example engineering controls. A SWMS is generally different from other documents that focus on specific tasks or processes, such as a Job Safety Analysis or a Safe Operating Procedure. A SWMS is not intended to be a procedure—rather it is a tool to help supervisors and workers confirm and monitor the control measures required at the workplace."
In other words, you don’t need a different SWMS for each power tool or each piece of equipment you use, or for every task you complete.
Some other safety companies try to make it extra confusing (and costly for you) by saying you need multiple SWMS, but our goal has always been to make things as easy and budget friendly as possible for our customers.
Safe-R Outcomes documents really are easy to buy and implement. Here’s how!
- Select your industry type here, and then choose the package that suits your needs. You can pay using your credit card or your PayPal account
- You’ll be able to login to your account and access the required documents and training from your dashboard. Many of our documents can be easily filled in online, or you can download Word or PDF versions of them to your computer
- Open your documents you’ll find your completed WHS documents! You just need to review them and adjust for any company specific policies you have.
- Fill in your company details eg. business name
- Print out your WHS documents or email them to your workers
- Get back to doing what you really want to be doing
Yes it really is that easy!
All our documents are pre-written and cover the most common tasks, hazards, risks and controls faced by business owners in your industry. By using Safe-R Outcomes WHS documents you can be assured that you and your workers will be aware of the possible risks of the work and how to control them. And anything required by legislation is covered too! That means you know you are meeting your safety obligations!
Sure! Call us on 1300 058 797 anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Not sure what you need?
If you are a builder (Principal Contractor) on jobs over $250 000, the law says you need a WHS Management Plan. For your jobs which are under $250 000, you must still provide evidence that you are managing safety. Unfortunately, legislation doesn’t tell you how to do it, but industry (and inspector) expectations are that you will have WHS documents in place. Having a WHS Management Plan is the easiest way to show you are doing the right thing.
We have solutions for both commercial and residential builders that include everything you need to meet your legal obligations, no matter the price of your job.
If you do both commercial and residential builds then we have solutions for that too!
For all other
Still not sure? No problem! Contact us and we can get you the right product to meet your needs.
Congrats and thank you for making your purchase!
To get going with safety in your business, simply follow these steps:
- Login to your account
- From the main menu, select My Account > Dashboard
- From the Dashboard, click on the Get Started tile
- Browse through the Read Me First and Safety in 5 Easy Steps then familiarise yourself with general safety terminology
- Return to the Dashboard and proceed to the relevant Documentation, Training or Resources that is required
If you need help from there, please contact support.
All our safe work method statements, WHS Management Plans, toolbox talks and SOPs are fully written by industry experts for you with the most common tasks, risks, hazards and controls for all work completed on construction sites. They even provide extra information within the documents that will keep your workers better informed for a safer and more efficient workplace for you.
Our checklists and registers are forms that need to be filled in, however they are easy to use ‘tick and flick’ documents mostly to ensure that you can get back to doing what you need to be doing to run your business.
Once you purchase it, you should review it and add or remove anything you feel is important plus include your business details, and the site address.
You are then able to email it to your workers or whoever else has requested it. You can ask workers to download it so they have a copy on their phone or tablet, and you can do likewise. Or you can print it and keep it on site, and during toolbox talks ensure everyone knows where it is located, and then for best practice, get them to sign off on it that they have read it/are aware of its contents.
High risk construction work is generally considered to be the following and is covered in each states WHS legislation.
High risk construction work:
- involves a risk of a person falling more than 2m
- is carried out on a telecommunication tower
- involves demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing
- involves demolition of an element of a structure that is related to the physical integrity of the structure
- involves, or is likely to involve, disturbing asbestos
- involves structural alteration or repair that requires temporary support to prevent collapse
- is carried out in or near a confined space
- is carried out in or near a shaft or trench deeper than 1.5 m or a tunnel
- involves the use of explosives
- is carried out on or near pressurised gas mains or piping
- is carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
- is carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services
- is carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
- involves tilt-up or precast concrete
- is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor in use by traffic other than pedestrians
- is carried out in an area of a workplace where there is any movement of powered mobile plant
- is carried out in areas with artificial extremes of temperature
- is carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning
- involves diving work
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