Safe Work Method Statements: When Should I Write One

WhenToWrite-SWMS

In Australia, it is a legislative requirement under the WHS Act, that a written Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is produced for High Risk Construction Works. Any Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure that SWMS are prepared for all high-risk construction work prior to work commencing.

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A safe work method statement (SWMS) is a crucial part of any Workplace Safety Management System. Its purpose is to ensure all workers have a full understanding of the risks involved in the work activities they are performing, as well as control measures, which can be implemented to minimise the risk of damage, injury or death, ensuring they complete the task safely.

In Australia, it is a legislative requirement under the WHS Act, that a written Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is produced for High Risk Construction Works. Any Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure that SWMS are prepared for all high-risk construction work prior to work commencing.

So what is considered high-risk construction work?

Works that involve any of the following are considered “High Risk Construction”

  • asbestos, explosives or diving work
  • building or demolition work involving tilt-up or pre-cast concrete
  • confined spaces
  • demolition
  • pressurised gas distribution mains or piping chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines energised electrical installations or services.
  • Structure or building involving structural alterations or repairs that require temporary support to prevent collapse
  • work carried out adjacent to a road, railway or shipping lane, traffic corridor
  • work in an area that may have contaminated or flammable atmosphere
  • working around mobile plant / machinery
  • working at depths greater than 1.5 metres, including tunnels or mines
  • working at heights where there is a risk of falling more than two metres, including work on telecommunications towers
  • working in areas where there is risk of being exposed to artificial extreme temperatures
  • working in or near water or other liquid that involves risk of drowning

How do I write a Safe Work Method Statement?

When writing a SWMS it is essential to involve persons who fully understand the scope of the works to be carried out. A PCBU, in consultation with any workers directly involved in the work task should be the ones to prepare the SWMS document, as they understand the task and the workers performing the task, plus they are on site to ensure that control measures are implemented correctly.

Need to write a Safe Work Method Statement for your business? Here is a 20-point checklist to help ensure your SWMS comply with legislation.

To view the Ultimate 20-point SWMS Checklist Click Here

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