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Understanding Safe Work Method Statements

Working in construction comes with inherent risks, as well as unique challenges to overcome throughout each individual project. All PCBU’s (persons conducting a business or undertaking) have a duty of care for their workers whether they are full time, part time, temporary or contract. As part of their risk management strategy, a safe work method statement (SWMS) will be written up to reduce the level of risk/hazards involved in carrying out activities on site.

In this blog post, we will be highlighting the importance of SWMS within the construction industry and how they can help you stay safe on site.

The Purpose of the SWMS

Nowhere is a SWMS more important than in the construction industry. Construction sites are busy places with numerous personnel working on-site alongside one another, all of whom are tasked with different jobs and utilising a range of heavy machinery and power tools. SWMS are also important if any personnel will be working at heights in excess of 2 metres, or working alongside a high traffic area utilised by members of the public.

The purpose of SWMS is to minimise the risks involved and protect the health and safety of workers and members of the public.

What information can be found within a SWMS?

When drafting a SWMS, the builder/subcontractor must note the following:

  • All construction work that could be considered high-risk (e.g. demolition work, working from heights etc)
  • Potential hazards present whilst the work is being carried out, clearly highlighting how they pose a risk to health and safety
  • Proposed measures to reduce and control safety risks
  • Specifics surrounding the implementation, monitoring and review process for control measures

It is important that the SWMS provides sufficient detail without being overwhelming, as this can make it difficult for workers to comprehend and may result in some measures not being implemented properly.

Helping Site Members Comprehend the SWMS

It is important to note that many construction workers are in Australia on temporary work visas, and they may have limited understanding of English. Therefore, it is important that the SWMS is designed to be easy to read and comprehend. You may wish to use pictures and diagrams to help get the message and safety procedures across.

Key messages should also be reinforced during site induction to ensure that every worker has a full understanding of the safety procedures and control measures in place. This will ensure every member of the team is aware of when, where and how risks may occur and the ways in which they should be managed.

Staying safe on site requires a team effort. The principal contractor along with sub-contractors and workers should be invited to contribute towards its development and review, and the principal contractor should oversee all tasks to ensure they are being performed in accordance with the SWMS.

Summary of SWMS Benefits for Workers and Builders

By having a comprehensive SWMS in place, you will:

  • Benefit from improved efficiency
  • Have a better understanding of the tasks being carried out on-site, along with their risks
  • Have a better understanding of the role of each team member and their skills
  • Be better able to evaluate, control and potentially eliminate risks in line with WHS guidelines
  • Be better prepared to initiate induction for new employees
  • Help to keep all team members safe during the performance of their duties

Get Involved in Construction Today

At Brix Projects, we take safety seriously. If you are a skilled worker seeking an exciting new role with some of Australia’s leading contractors, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with our friendly labour hire recruitment team today.

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