What Is A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)?

A SWMS or Safe Work Method Statement is required by law in Australia when carrying out high-risk construction work.
A SWMS defines the method by which you will carry out the tasks and activities of a job safely.

The SWMS enables everyone from the Principal Contractor to the workers to fully understand the risks involved. Additionally, it defines the control measures to eliminate or reduce those risks.

The SWMS should be understandable by everyone involved.

The law requires a SWMS to be kept for the duration of the work. Although, if there’s a notifiable incident it needs keeping for two years.

Work Activities Defined

A Safe Work Method Statement sets out the work tasks in steps.
Identifying any task hazards and assessing the risk of those hazards follows.
Next, there’s a description of the control measures that will eliminate or minimise those risks.

A SWMS is a comprehensive statement of where and exactly how a job will be carried out. It should also include the use of any assets (plant, machinery equipment or tools). Further, it will define the use of any chemicals or hazardous substances.

The person with whom you intend doing business will be viewing the SWMS. Therefore, besides being a requirement by law, it displays your professionalism to the person with whom you are doing business.

Your workers will need to understand each task step, the risks and control measures. They should sign the SWMS to certify their full understanding of it.

Advisors are critical

An office worker or someone who doesn’t fully understand the process often has the task of writing a SWMS. It’s a bad idea when relevance is so critical! Experienced advisors are crucial!

Advisors are people who are thoroughly familiar with the work tasks.
These are mostly your workers.
Your workers should have the primary input into the SWMS creation.

Remember; for a SWMS to be of any use, it must be relevant!
You may need to prove that relevance if there’s a court action resulting from an incident on the job.

Generic Templates

Creating safe work method statements can be time-consuming and frustrating. More so when you perform many high-risk activities because you need a SWMS for each job.

Using downloadable generic templates is one option.

Customising can make the template suit a particular job and are usually filed or thrown out on job completion.
Eventually, a collection of SWMS accumulates with one that covers each job you are likely to perform.

Generic SWMS templates provide a good alternative to writing a SWMS from scratch. However, like any other part of your business, safe work method statements are better managed when they are part of an integrated system.

Permanently Recorded, Duplicated SWMS

Another way to manage safe work method statements is to have them forever on record and integrated into a management system.

Just like your accounting system, it’s good management to have all the parts of your health and safety integrated into an easily accessible, customisable system.

Simple WorkSafe offers such a system.

Safe work method statements can be quickly generated or duplicated from any device anywhere, any time.

Send a link to your workers who can sign by touch screen from a mobile phone.
Send the completed report right from the system to the principal contractor. You can even get the principal contractor to sign digitally with a little setup work.

The record is then permanently and readily available and linked to all jobs and resources using it. Furthermore, you’ll be able to prove you have an effective and up to date health and safety system in place if the needs were ever to arise.

By using a management system you’ll be able to;

  • create, customise and distribute all the SWMS you’ll ever use,
  • integrate SWMS management into your health and safety system seamlessly.

The Simple WorkSafe SWMS wizard makes the creation, duplication and recording of a Safe Work Method Statement simple.

Another option is the full management system of Simple WorkSafe with SWMS included plus many other features.