Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)

“SWMS are needed for every task”

Not true, there are 19 high risk activities that require a SWMS

High risk construction work

In the construction industry, a PCBU that carries out high risk construction has additional WHS duties. These include requirements to prepare, keep, comply with and review a safe work method statement for the work and provide the safe work method statement to the principal contractor.

High risk construction work:

  • involves a risk of a person falling more than 2 m
  • is carried out on a telecommunication tower
  • involves demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing
  • involves demolition of an element of a structure that is related to the physical integrity of the structure
  • involves, or is likely to involve, disturbing asbestos
  • involves structural alteration or repair that requires temporary support to prevent collapse
  • is carried out in or near a confined space
  • is carried out in or near a shaft or trench deeper than 1.5 m or a tunnel
  • involves the use of explosives
  • is carried out on or near pressurized gas mains or piping
  • is carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
  • is carried out on or near energized electrical installations or services
  • is carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
  • involves tilt-up or precast concrete
  • is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor in use by traffic other than pedestrians
  • is carried out in an area of a workplace where there is any movement of powered mobile plant
  • is carried out in areas with artificial extremes of temperature
  • is carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning
  • involves diving work

“SWMS are only needed if your principal contractor asks for them”

Not true, at anytime work is being carried out on a High Risk Activity you require a SWMS to be completed. Your principal contractor needs a copy of it before you start work.

“SWMS are only done once, as long as I have one in my ute I am all good to go”

Not true, sorry that outdated one you have thrown in the ute needs to be up-to-date, completed for each new high risk activity for every jobsite and signed off by all working on the jobsite.

“SWMS are hard to do”

SWMS don’t need to be hard, here is a great link to get you started – Or you can just use Projects One Safety Online. The program takes you through step by step!

“I am a sole trader I don’t need one”

Not true, if you are working on a high risk activity you are still required to have a SWMS.

“I paid $900 for my SWMS, it’s a big thick folder, surly it covers me, I haven’t read it, but it’s in the ute.”

SWMS can be generic. SWMS may be prepared and used for work activities that are carried out on a regular basis. The content of this type of SWMS may be refined over a number of years and include consultation with workers and other PCBUs. Prior to each new activity, the SWMS must be reviewed and revised to ensure it applies to the high risk construction work and the actual workplace.

Risk Assessments

“Risk assessments are hard to do”

Risk Assessments are easy, look at the task you are doing. Ask yourself and your staff a number of questions like:

  1. What hazards are there?
  2. What risk is associated with those hazards?
  3. How big is the risk and who or what could be harmed by those hazards? E.g. a person could be killed or injured, or the environment could sustain a negative impact
  4. How can I control those hazards to eliminate or minimise the risk?
  5. How do I implement those controls?
  6. What staff require consulting and training?
  7. How can I monitor the controls to make sure they are being used and working?

Now write it down, or use Projects One Safety Online and follow the steps.

Toolbox Meetings/Pre-Start Meeting

“Toolbox meetings is where we have a chat at lunch, I don’t write anything down”

Toolbox meetings need to be at the beginning of the day or when something changes. You need to consult your employees regarding their safety. And all this must be written down. Did you remember to check on your young workers to ensure they are supervised correctly?

Did you remember to check your first aid kit or train your workers regarding that new tool you have brought?

Use Projects One Safety Online to record your toolbox meetings, use the template and questions to guide your meeting successfully.