What is a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)?
A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS), also called safe systems of work, is a tool used by safety managers and compliance teams to evaluate high-risk construction work activities, determine the risks involved and develop control measures to manage these risks. A SWMS serves as an official safety document outlining the safe way to complete a job and requires buy-in and sign-off from all workers involved.
This article will discuss 1) when you need a SWMS; 2) how to prepare a good SWMS report; 3) how technology can help streamline safe work inspections and; 4) free SWMS templates you can use on site.
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When do I need a SWMS?
All Australian businesses carrying out any of the 18 high-risk construction work activities are required under the Work Health and Safety Regulations to prepare a SWMS before any construction work starts.
Here is a list of the 18 high-risk construction work activities which require a SWMS to be prepared:
- Where there is a risk of a person falling more than two metres.
- On or adjacent to roadways or railways used by road or rail traffic.
- In, over or adjacent to water or other liquids where there is a risk of drowning.
- At workplaces where there is any movement of powered mobile plant.
- Structural alterations that require temporary support to prevent collapse.
- In an area where there are artificial extremes of temperature.
- On or near energised electrical installations or services.
- Involving a trench or shaft if the excavated depth is more than 1·5 metres.
- On or near pressurised gas distribution mains or piping.
- Involving demolition.
- Involving a confined space.
- On or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines.
- Involving tilt-up or precast concrete.
- On telecommunications towers.
- Involving diving.
- Involving removal or likely disturbance of asbestos
- In an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere.
- Involving the use of explosives.
How to Prepare a Good SWMS Report
Prior to commencing work on any of the 18 high-risk construction activities outlined above, supervisors, contractors and subcontractors will need to coordinate with each other to assign a competent person to create a comprehensive SWMS report. A good SWMS report serves as a master document outlining the safest way to complete the task.
Here are 5 important things to include when creating a good SWMS report:
Click here to preview a sample completed SWMS report and template.
- Break the job down - list the steps in a logical manner and take into consideration what is required to be achieved by the task
- Identify the high-risk tasks - assess activity or task to which a person might be harmed or injured when working
- Plan how to control - develop preventive and control measures to mitigate hazards i.e. what safety systems should we implement to make the job safer and prevent the injuries that may occur
- Determine who is responsible - identify roles and responsibilities for actions and outcomes to make sure that controls were carried out and communicated properly.
- Educate workers - ensure the SWMS is fully understood by all workers prior to commencing the task.
A completed SWMS report can be incorporated during toolbox talk meetings in consultation with those people performing the job. A SWMS should be made available for inspection at any given time. It must also be reviewed each year and amended if necessary.
What is iAuditor and how can I use it for SWMS?
A SWMS is an important safety document when performing high-risk construction work, but can be time consuming to prepare and implement. iAuditor is the world’s #1 inspection software which replaces paper SWMS forms with a mobile app. Capture hazards and notify responsible teams for immediate resolution. Generate and share reports with just one tap. Get all workers involved to sign off with their electronic signatures. All completed SWMS are automatically saved online.