What is a safe work method statement?
A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is a detailed guide that comprehensively explains all the high-risk work involved in your project and how you plan to execute them safely. The best safe work statement examples are ones that include the following:
- A list and description of all tasks that will be done
- Clear identification of the specific resources, people, and skills required for every task
- Thorough evaluation of all potential risks
- The proper establishment of control measures for risk reduction
- A systematic plan to accomplish all tasks effectively and efficiently
Before beginning work on any high-risk project like construction and mining, an SWMS is needed to make sure that the highest level of safety guidelines will be implemented during operation. The goal is for your employees to have a full understanding of how they’re going to do the work, which instructions should be followed, and what precautions should be taken to make sure that work accidents and unnecessary delays don’t happen.
This article covers the following topics:
1. Why high-risk projects need a SWMS
2. Benefits of implementing SWMS in your workplace
3. 5 Main ways to prepare a safe work method statement
4. A digital tool for implementing SWMS
Why High-Risk Projects Need a Safe Work Method Statement
In a 2019 report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the fatality rate in the construction industry rose to 5% and recorded an alarming 1,061 deaths. Across the board, the total recorded number of fatal work injuries locked in at 5,333 — that means every 99 minutes, someone dies because of a workplace injury.
Multiple reasons can be attributed to the growing problem of workplace accidents, but three of the main preventable problems identified by the International Labour Organization are directly attributed to the lack of safety management, lack of information, and poor safety culture. All of which are addressed in a safe work method statement.
This goes to show that when stakes are high, you need a detailed and well-communicated plan to effectively manage risks. A safe work method statement will help ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to equipping your team with the necessary information they need to bring the task to completion safely and efficiently.
Benefits of Implementing SWMS in Your Workplace
When properly implemented, a safe work method statement will not only protect your people from workplace hazards but also make sure that word gets done effectively.
Here are four major benefits of using an SWMS:
- It increases safety measures and reduces accidents.
- It establishes a clear and detailed course of action for every required high-risk task which minimizes communication and mistakes.
- It can improve the current work process and productivity increase.
- It can minimize accident-related expenditures and liabilities.
- It can improve team morale and confidence.
5 Main Ways to Prepare a Safe Work Method Statement
Your safe work method statement should be prepared before any high-risk activity or project begins. Although it can seem intimidating, preparing can be done in five simple steps:
- Streamline the steps needed to get the job done
The first thing you need to do is to think through how you’ll get the job done clearly and logically. By doing this, you’ll be able to determine areas where the workload can be decreased or processes that can be improved. The goal is to find the most optimal way to complete your project in the most effective but simplest way possible.
- Identify which tasks are high-risk
The next step is to list down all high-risk tasks and the amount of risk associated with it. This will help ensure that the right task is being assigned to the right person and also give you the chance to double-check their risk-taking ability. The risk factor must be calculated before it’s assigned to an employee.
For you to get a better idea, you can take a cue from the safe work method statement demolition example by the Bay Building Group in Australia.
- Implement risk control measures
Once you’ve listed all the identified risks, the appropriate response is prevention. Your control measures should work to minimize the risk or get rid of it altogether.
For example, construction workers spend a significant amount of time at high elevations with the identified risk of fall fatalities. A control measure you can implement is a fall protection system for heights six feet and above. This can include putting up safety nets, setting up guardrails, and equipping your workers with individual fall arrest systems. You can also include proper safety briefings to ensure that people are aware of the identified risks and steps to prevent them from happening.
When it comes to navigating high-risk jobs, you can’t leave anything to chance. Establishing preventive measures can help your operation control potential damage and stay on track with your goals.
- Define the responsibilities clearly
Defining the responsibilities that they need to do will minimize the possibility of role confusion and help you manage the outcome better. Role confusion can happen when workers are given conflicting, incompatible, or multiple instructions from one or several superiors. This puts unnecessary stress on the employee and can also cause potential mistakes that can cause accidents.
Proper communication is at the core of role clarity. An SWMS will require you to define all job responsibilities, who the instructions will come from, and how to execute the task properly.
- Make it a point to educate your workers
One of the critical points of the SWMS is the need for it to be easily understood by your workers. Safe Work Australia notes that it should be short, detailed, and clear enough to be understood even by non-English native speakers. So, try to steer clear of a lengthy and excessively detailed SWMS because this can be hard to understand and follow.
A Digital Tool for Implementing SWMS
Digitizing your safe work method statement will provide your workers round-the-clock access to valuable safety instructions that can make a difference in preventing fatal accidents.
With Lumiform, you can access your SWMS conveniently through your mobile or desktop, whether you’re offline or online. Best of all, it’s customizable, so you can easily make adjustments and updates as you improve processes. Utilizing our intuitive mobile app will help you efficiently prepare for inspections with ease.
But that’s not all. With Lumiform, you also have the following benefits:
- Ready-made templates to help you create your SWMS easily.
- Take photos of hazard risks and make notes to better describe the risks and improve with this your SWMS.
- Get all workers involved to sign off with their electronic signatures.
- Automated digital report that you can utilize to consolidate your results, comments, and even site documentation.
- A detailed analysis that can help you pinpoint inefficiencies and blind spots, and improve your safety guidelines.