Safe Work Method Statement
Assess high-risk construction work activities and save time generating SWMS reports with a handheld device
Published May 8th, 2020
What is SWMS?
SWMS or Safe Work Method Statement is a document that outlines high-risk construction work activities, hazards associated with the activity, and the control measures in place to manage these risks. SWMS is required before performing any high-risk construction work to ensure safety and proper implementation of standard operating procedures.
This article will briefly discuss the following:
- Who is required to complete a SWMS template?
- What information should be in a safe work method statement?
- Is there a difference in the SWMS templates across Australian states?
- How can iAuditor be used for digital safe work method statements?
- Free SWMS templates you can download, customize, and use
When do I need 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:
- 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. Take a look at this safe work method statement example.
State-Specific Safe Work Method Statements
While the Safe Work Method Statements in each state are pretty similar as they are based on the same legislation developed by SafeWork Australia, there are subtle differences between each state. For more detailed information, visit the following government websites:
- SWMS Template NSW – SafeWork New South Wales Website
- SWMS Template QLD – WorkSafe Queensland Website
- SWMS Template SA – SafeWork South Australia Website
- SWMS Template Vic – WorkSafe Victoria Website
- SWMS Template WA – WorkSafe Western Australia Website
What is iAuditor and how can I use it for SWMS?
An SWMS is an important safety document when performing high-risk construction work, but it can be time-consuming to prepare and implement. iAuditor by SafetyCulture is an inspection software which replaces paper SWMS forms with a mobile app that lets you:
- Capture hazards and notify responsible teams for immediate resolution.
- Generate and share reports with just one tap. Preview sample report.
- Get all workers involved to sign off with their electronic signatures.
- Save all completed SWMS in the cloud.
Featured Free SWMS Templates
Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Template
This Safe Work Method Statement template can be used in performing any of the 18 high-risk construction work activities. It documents the work to be carried out at a workplace, hazards associated with these activities, and the control measures to put in place to mitigate the risks. This template serves as a guide for inspectors to:
- List tasks involved and risk associated with each task
- Take photo of the high-risk activity identified
- Add comments and recommendations
- Set and assign corrective measures through Actions; and
- Complete the report by providing a digital signature.
Construction Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Template
A construction Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) template is a document that outlines the way a work task or process should be performed. Use this template to identify and describe specific hazards for high-risk construction work and determine the control measures to be put in place for safe completion of work.
Working at Heights Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Template
A working at heights SWMS template is used to outline the needed tasks (e.g. working on a roof, operating a ladder, or working on a scaffold) to complete the job and the safest way to perform it. Risks such as falls, slips, trips, and collisions should be clearly identified for each of the tasks. Consult the people who usually perform the job and get insights about factors to decide if it’s safe to continue the work or not.
Electrical Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) Template
An electrical safe work method statement (SWMS) template is used to record each task, determine electrical hazards, and minimize all possible risks that can injure a worker. Capture photo evidence of any electrical equipment defect. Take into consideration other factors such as inadequate PPE or doing an installation outdoors during the rainy season. Share this report to your safety manager for further review before commencing work.