Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)

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The SWMS window in view mode

What is a SWMS

In some countries, a Safe Work Method Statement or SWMS must be completed when carrying out high-risk construction work activities.

The purpose of a SWMS is to help building site managers, supervisors, workers and any other persons at the workplace to understand what needs to happen to carry out the work safely.

A Safe Work Method Statement sets out the work activities in steps. Once each step is defined, potential hazards that could occur while carrying out each step. Then a risk rating is assigned to the hazard. The risk factor is a combination of the likelihood of the hazard occurring and the consequences if it does. The risk factor is determined using a Risk Matrix (see image below).

RiskMatrix

Once the risk factor is determined, control measures are designed to either eliminate or reduce the risk. The best way to determine what controls measures are needed is to use “Hierarchy of Controls” matrix  (see image below). The idea is to start at the top of the matrix, “Elimination”. Try to eliminate the hazard. If this is not possible go to the next step down which is “Substitution”. Can we substitute the process or condition to reduce the risk? Go on down the Hierarchy of Controls until it becomes clear as to what controls can be implemented.

Note; If the only way to control the hazard and reduce the risk is by “Administration”, which is by the use of Operating procedures or other administrative tools, or by PPE you are basically admitting that the hazard will always be there and people will always be exposed to it.

HierarchyOfControls

For a SWMS to be of any use at all it must be relevant!
Accurately defining each step of the method is important.
Often a person creating the SWMS will not be familiar with all the actions of a task or process.
Advisors are critical!
Advisors are made up of people who are thoroughly familiar with the tasks of a process.

Create a SWMS

Under “Risk” on the menu bar select “SWMS”, on a single application “SWMS” will be on the menu bar.

Of course, if you haven’t created any SWMS records yet, the page will be blank.

To create a new SWMS click the “+” symbol in the bottom right corner.

You will be taken to the “General Details” form. This is the first step to creating a SWMS – creating the record.

Now enter the details in each of the fields. Use the footer notes or by hovering over a field a tooltip will appear for guidance as what needs to be entered.

Jobs are site-specific so you must select the “Site” first. Choose the job that this SWMS relates to by selecting the job from the list when you press “select”. Jobs are either created separately in the Job Register or “on the fly” from this “Select” function. This SWMS will automatically be attached to the job you choose.

High Risk Type – is where you choose the high-risk type of work that will be performed. The list cannot be added to.

Asset in SWMS – Select each of the assets that will be used in carrying out this job. Assets are items of plant, machinery, equipment or tools.
Each asset can either be set up beforehand on the “Assets” register (see “Registers” section) or you can set them up “on the run” by pressing the “Create New” button that will be available when you press “Add Item”.
This SWMS will be automatically attached to each of these assets.

Are Assets Safe – Is asset servicing up to date? Are operating procedures current and available to users? Have all required safety checks been made? Choose from the dropdown list which answer applies.

Chemicals/Hazardous Goods – Select each of the chemicals or hazardous goods that will be used in carrying out this job.
Each chemical can either be set up beforehand on the “Chemicals” register (see “Registers” section) or you can set them up “on the run” by pressing the “Create New” button that will be available when you press “Add Item”.
This SWMS will be automatically attached to each of these chemicals.

Are Chemicals Safe – Are Chemical Safety Data Sheets current and available? Are operating procedures current and available to users? Have all required safety checks been made? Are the chemicals stored correctly on-site? Choose from the dropdown list which answer applies.

PCBU – The PCBU is the “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking”. It is often you if you are a small business. If you are a manger creating a SWMS for your company, the company owner is the PCBU. If you are a contractor working on behalf of a company the PCBU is the company you are working for.

Principle Contractor – Enter the name of the principal contractor. This is you if you are the contractor carrying out the work. It is the company you work for if you are an employee of the company contracted to carry out the work.

Principle Contractor Contact – can be either phone, email or any other way you contact this person.

Assessor – The name, contact details and signature of the person who created the SWMS. You can sign using a mouse, stylus pen or your finger on touch devices.

Once the general details have been completed press “Save” to move to the next step in the process.

SWMS details

Task, Hazards, Risk and Controls

The SWMS has all the general details and now is the time to add the Tasks, Hazards, Risk and Controls for each of the tasks associated with the SWMS.

Scroll down the record to the Task, Hazards, Risk and Controls and click on the “+ NEW” button

SWMS tasks

Now enter the details in each of the fields. Use the footer notes or, by hovering over a field, a tooltip will appear for guidance as what needs to be entered.

Step Order – This is where you assign the order of the steps e.g. 1. NOTE; If you miss a step don’t worry. Just assign a decimal point e.g. 1.01 and the task will automatically fall into sequence.

Hazards – The Hazards section is where we identify any potential hazards relating to each task. We then assess the risk of each hazard. The risk is the likelihood of the hazard occurring and the consequences if it does. The Risk will be automatically assigned from your selections.

To help with this, you can open a Risk Matrix by clicking on the icon on the page.

Risk Matrix on SWMS

Controls – Controls are the measures we need to implement to either eliminate the hazard or reduce its risk. We need to do this for each of the hazards we’ve identified.

Deciding on suitable control measures is much more simple if you use the Hierarchy of Controls matrix. You can open this from the icon in the header of this form.

Residual Risk / Residual Consequences – Choose from the drop-down list the likelihood of this hazard occurring AFTER controls are in place and what would be the consequences if it did. The Residual Risk will be automatically be assigned from your selections

Click the “Save and New” button to continue adding in tasks, the hazards associated with the task and the control measures you will be implementing.

Once all the steps are in click the “Save” button.

The Task list on a SWMS

SWMS Workers

A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that all workers who will be involved in high risk construction work are provided with information and instruction so they:

  • understand the hazards and the risks arising from the work
  • understand and implement the risk controls in a SWMS
  • know what to do if the work is not being conducted in accordance with the SWMS.

At this step, you will be entering all the workers who will be involved in this Safe Work Method Statement.

Under the Tasks, Hazards, Risk and Controls category you will find SWMS Workers. Click the “+ New SWMS Workers” button to add the workers who will be involved with this SWMS.

SWMS Workers

As the assessor, you can add all the workers that will be associated with the SWMS, the workers can then log in,  read over the SWMS and date and sign the SWMS stating they have read and understood the SWMS.

Workers can sign the SWMS

Duplicating A SWMS

If you perform specific types of work your SWMS may be fairly similar. If this is the case it’s handy to be able to duplicate them and edit the parts that differ such as dates, jobs, principle contractor etc.

To duplicate a SWMS, select the SWMS you wish to duplicate, click or tap on the three dots (hover over the record they will appear on the right-hand side) and press Duplicate SWMS. Or open the SWMS you want to duplicate and select “Duplicate SWMS” at the bottom of the record

Duplicate the SWMS

The new SWMS will be the first record on the page.

You’ll notice all the same information except for a couple of fields, being dates and signatures.

The workers will need to sign and date the form once they have re-read and understood the document.
Make sure the same workers are doing this job otherwise delete the worker. Then just add the new worker as we do normally.

To add or update details click Edit.

Once updated press “Save”

Printing Reports

There are a number of reports that can be printed.

Detailed reports are reports that contain all details of a particular record. You can then email the client the SWMS.

Open the SWMS you want to print, then, from the 3 dots on the top of the record choose “Report”.

Reports are available in PDF, MS Word, MS Excel and image formats.

Only a “Supervisors” role can print out reports. This can be printed out for workers if that’s how they wish to read over the SWMS

Open a List Report

Print Repor tList

Open a Detail Report