What is a SWMS?
A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is a document used in the construction industry that breaks down the steps involved in a task with potential for hazards and incidents. It must set out the steps in logical sequence, identify hazards and describe control measures as appropriate to mitigate the risk of hazards.
SWMS must adhere to workplace health and safety legislation and be accessible to all employees involved in the particular task. An SWMS must be available until the high-risk construction work is completed.
Read Our Post To Learn More: What Is A Safe Work Method Statement?
Have you ever been asked to provide a “SWMS” or “Safe Work Method Statement” on a project in Queensland? Read our post where we answer the question – What Is A Safe Work Method Statement?
How Often Do SWMS Need To Be Reviewed?
In the event of a notifiable incident, the SWMS covering the work must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised. The SWMS must then be kept for at least two years from the change. If the construction work has ceased within the two year period, the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) should keep a copy of the SWMS until that time is up.
After a revision, all persons involved in the work must be advised of the changes and informed of how to access the SWMS to ensure they are following the most up-to-date control measures.
SWMS should also be reviewed if there are no notifiable incidents or hazards reported within six months to ensure that all of the safety controls remain relevant and effective.
All versions of the SWMS that have been used should be kept.
What information needs to be in a SWMS?
A SWMS contains the following information:
- Description of the job
- Person responsible for implementing, reviewing and monitoring the SWMS
- Qualifications and training necessary to do the task
- Any potential risks or hazards and the level of risk
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), signage and tags required
- Plant and equipment needed
- Emergency plan and rescue procedure in case of hazards
- Relevant Safety Data Sheets and Legislation
- Current action or procedure used in the event of an accident’’
If the work is being carried out at a construction project:
- the name of the principal contractor
- the address where the high risk construction work will be carried out
- the date the SWMS was prepared and the date it was provided to the principal contractor
What information does NOT need to be in an SWMS?
The SWMS must be quick to read so every person who undertakes the activity can read it beforehand. Therefore, you should not include:
- Lists of or references to legislation
- Complete quotes or sections from Codes of Practice and Australian Standards
Who Should Prepare and Review the SWMS?
A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), usually the employer, has the primary duty of care under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to ensure the health and safety of workers. Therefore, any PCBU involved should consult and coordinate with all other PCBUs when creating or updating a SWMS.
A PCBU should also consult with workplace health and safety representatives. Finally, the workers who will be directly engaged in the activity should be consulted. They understand the work being carried out and will be most affected by safety procedures.
How to Ensure your SWMS is Compliant?
All PCBUs are responsible for ensuring that high-risk construction work is being done in accordance with the SWMS. This usually involves regular workplace inspections and checking in with workers and supervisors to ensure they understand the control measures used in the SWMS.
If the work is not being done in accordance to current control measures, it must stop immediately and must not resume until the problem is resolved. In the event of this occurring, the SWMS should then be reviewed to identify any reasons for non-compliance and ensure that the SWMS is the safest and most practical way of doing the task.
The work must not be commenced until the principal contractor and workers are aware of the content of the SWMS so they may comply with the appropriate control measures.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out our Free SWMS Template for QLD!
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