Safe Work Method Statement - SWMS

Assess high-risk construction work activities and save time generating SWMS reports with a handheld device

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Published November 16th, 2020

What is SWMS - Safe Work Method Statement?

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:

  1. What is the difference between a SWMS and a JSA?
  2. Who is required to complete a SWMS template?
  3. What information should be in a safe work method statement?
  4. Is there a difference in the SWMS templates across Australian states?
  5. How can iAuditor be used for digital safe work method statements?
  6. Free SWMS templates you can download, customize, and use

What is the Difference Between a SWMS and a JSA?

While both documents are used to promote safety in the workplace, a SWMS is used specifically in the construction industry while a JSA or Job Safety Analysis can be used by any business with the intent to identify hazards of individual tasks and coming up with controls and safety measures.

What are 3 Pieces of Information that may be Included on a SWMS?

The 3 main information that should be found on a SWMS are the following:

  • The construction job and the tasks that are potentially hazardous
  • The hazards of executing the tasks
  • The description of control measures that intend to control or eliminate the hazards involved with the tasks

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:

  1. Where there is a risk of a person falling more than two metres.
  2. On or adjacent to roadways or railways used by road or rail traffic.
  3. In, over or adjacent to water or other liquids where there is a risk of drowning.
  4. At workplaces where there is any movement of powered mobile plant.
  5. Structural alterations that require temporary support to prevent collapse.
  6. In an area where there are artificial extremes of temperature.
  7. On or near energised electrical installations or services.
  8. Involving a trench or shaft if the excavated depth is more than 1·5 metres.
  9. On or near pressurised gas distribution mains or piping.
  10. Involving demolition.
  11. Involving a confined space.
  12. On or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines.
  13. Involving tilt-up or precast concrete.
  14. On telecommunications towers.
  15. Involving diving.
  16. Involving removal or likely disturbance of asbestos
  17. In an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere.
  18. 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:

  1. Break the job down – list the steps in a logical manner and take into consideration what is required to be achieved by the task
  2. Identify the high-risk tasks – assess activity or task to which a person might be harmed or injured when working
  3. 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
  4. Determine who is responsible – identify roles and responsibilities for actions and outcomes to make sure that controls were carried out and communicated properly.
  5. 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:

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.

How do you Create a SWMS with iAuditor?

iAuditor’s versatility as a mobile app allows you to create your SWMS anytime anywhere. Using your device, you can download for free any of the SWMS templates and use them as a guide to create your SWMS. You can also edit existing templates or create your own from scratch to fit the needs of your construction project. Guided by the SWMS template, enter the information on the blank fields and include photos as added reference for the tasks to be completed or the safety concerns you intend to mitigate or control. Conveniently revise your SWMS as needed and generate reports to be electronically sent to intended recipients.


Carlo Sheen Escano

SafetyCulture staff writer

Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.