What Is A SWMS or Safe Work Method Statement?

What Is A Safe Work Method Statement

Introduction: What is an SWMS?

Have you ever been asked to provide a “SWMS” or “Safe Work Method Statement” on a project in Queensland? Read our post where we answer the question – What Is A Safe Work Method Statement? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Safe Work Method Statements are required for all “high risk construction work activities”, as defined in the Work Health and Safety Regulations. SWMS are not usually required for ‘work of a minor nature’. 

So Exactly What Is A SWMS or Safe Work Method Statement?

A Safe Work Method Statement (otherwise known as a SWMS), is a document that sets out the high risk construction work activities that are to be carried out at a workplace. It also sets out the hazards arising from these work activities, and the safety control measures to be put in place to control the risks. 

A single SWMS can be used for multiple high risk construction work activities, for example you could create a single Safe Work Method Statement for a work activity that involves the use of powered mobile plant and working adjacent to a road used by traffic other than pedestrians. 

A SWMS is not intended to be a “procedure” – instead, it should be used as a tool to help managers, supervisors and workers understand, follow and monitor the safety control measures required for each work activity. 

What Is The Purpose of a Safe Work Method Statement?

A safe work method statement or SWMS is used in the workplace to help employees stay safe. It outlines proper safety measures to be taken when performing a job.

There are different types of safe work statements that are used by employers, depending on the type of work that is being performed. For example, construction projects may have a safe work method statement that covers the use of power tools and equipment, while restaurants may have one for working with food preparation.

A Safe Work Method Statement should include all necessary safety measures for employees to follow when performing their job duties. This includes information on what protective gear they should wear, where they should stand or walk during their tasks, and how they should handle unforeseen circumstances.

Can I Use A Generic Safe Work Method Statement?

It’s important that each Safe Work Method Statement is developed and reviewed to meet the specific needs of the workplace in which it will be used – that is, the workplace where the high risk construction work will take place. 

A generic Safe Work Method Statement used in multiple workplaces may not meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety laws unless it has been reviewed first, and updated to reflect the specific hazards and risks present at the specific workplace. 

A single Safe Work Method Statement can be prepared to cover a number of different work activities, provided it takes into account the changing nature of the work environment. 

Another alternative method is to create a separate Safe Work Method Statement for each high risk construction work activity. If you follow this method it is important to take into consideration how work activities may impact one another. 

How Do I Implement and Review A Safe Work Method Statement? 

All high risk construction work must be carried out in accordance with a Safe Work Method Statement. 

According to the Work Health and Safety Legislation in Queensland, the “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” must put in place arrangements to ensure the Safe Work Method Statement is complied with. 

A Safe Work Method Statement Must: 

  • Identify which work activities will involve high risk construction work
  • Identify hazards relating to the high risk construction work and their risks to health and safety 
  • Describe safety control measures that can be implemented to control the risks, and; 
  • Describe how the safety control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed. 

Safe Work Method Statements should be short and to the point, they should focus on describing the specific hazards identified for the high risk construction work to be carried out, along with the control measures that are to be implemented so that the work can be carried out safely. 

SWMS must be based on a workplace specific risk assessment and it must be easily understood by workers – including those from non-English speaking backgrounds. One great way to do this is by using pictures or diagrams. 

Free Safe Work Method Statement Template in Queensland

Would you like to download our free safe work method statement template for use in Queensland? This free Safe Work Method Statement template is suitable for any construction business in Queensland looking to improve its Work Health & Safety compliance!

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