Safe Work Method Statements


It is a legislative requirement that a written Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is produced for work which is determined to be High Risk Construction Work under the WHS Act.

The purpose of a SWMS is to enable all people involved with specific high risk construction work to have a full understanding of the risks involved with undertaking that work and to implement the risk controls outlined in the SWMS thereby increasing workplace safety.

Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure that SWMS are prepared for all high risk construction work before work is commenced. It is recommended that all SWMS are kept on-site or at a location where they can be delivered to the site promptly.

SWMS are also referred to by many other terms including, Safe Work Method Statements, Work Method Statements, Safe Work Methods, SWM, WMS

How does a SWMS work?
Our SWMSs’ are ready to use as part of your OHS System.

What information is included in SWMS
The SWMS must:
identify work that is high risk construction work
specify hazards relating to the high risk construction work
specify risks to health and safety associated with those hazards
describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks, and
describe how the risk control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed.

It is recommended that SWMS also include the following information:
the PCBU’s name, address and ABN (if they have one)
details of the person(s) responsible for ensuring implementation, monitoring and compliance with the SWMS
the name of the principal contractor
the address where the work will be carried out
the date prepared
the review date (if any)

It is important that the information included in SWMS is clearly set out, be easily accessible and fully understood by all site supervisors and workers. The content of a SWMS should provide adequate directions on how the risk controls will be implemented.

Who is responsible to prepare a SWMS
The PCBU must ensure SWMS are prepared for any high risk construction work they intend to carry out. SWMS should be developed in consultation with workers directly involved with the work. If more than one PCPU is undertaking work at the same worksite, then consultation between each PCPU regarding the content of SWMS is required to ensure consistency in the way work will be carried out on that site.

Who uses the SWMS?
SWMS are used by Principal Contractors, site supervisors, contractors, sub Contractors, Health & Safety Representatives (HSRs’) and any other workers on-site who may be directly affected by the work being carried out.

How long must SWMS be kept
The SWMS must be kept and be available for inspection at least until the high-risk construction work is completed. If a SWMS is revised, all versions must be kept.

If a notifiable incident occurs in connection with the high-risk construction work to which the SWMS relates then the SWMS must be kept for at least 5 years from the occurrence of the notifiable incident.

When does a SWMS need to be reviewed
A SWMS must be reviewed:

before any change is made to the way the construction work is carried out
before a new system of work is introduced
before the place where the work is being carried out is changed
if a new hazard is identified
if new information about a hazard becomes available
if a notifiable incident occurs in relation to construction work
if a control measure does not control the risk, or
a request for a review is received from a health and safety representative

The PCBU must carry out the review of SWMS in consultation with Principal Contractors, contractors, subcontractors, workers and any relevant HSR’s at the worksite.

Code of Practice – Managing Risks on Construction Work – Safe Work Australia (2012)