Heard of the term SWMS?

It stands for Safe Work Method Statement and if you’re planning on working in the building and construction industry for a long time you need to take them seriously.

Read on if you’re in charge of lives on site.

Safety compliance is a big deal in the construction industry and rightly so. Did you hear about the worker who died earlier this month from falling 20 metres down a lift shaft? Without a doubt we’d be reading about more tragedies if construction sites didn’t have a SWMS document dealing specifically about working at heights in place.

SWMS have many functions in a builder’s life. Designed to help a builder understand and control health and safety risks that may affect the site, the work, the workers or the general public.

SWMS are required by law.  A builder is at risk of fines or worse, jail time, if they do not prepare compliant SWMS. For Safe Work Method Statements to be effective, they must not only be compliant with law, they must also be:

Comprehensive – like building plans and contracts, a builder needs to imagine all opportunities for risky scenarios on site and detail them with contingency plans.

Readable – How can people follow your SWMS if they come from templates and are written using technical words and phrases? SWMS should be written in plain, simple English with clear and straight forward instructions.

Complete – You have to know and understand what the law requires, and make sure your SWMS has this information.  If you have a SWMS template, fill up all required information and make a habit of placing words like “Not Applicable” instead of leaving blanks on things that don’t apply to your work.

Tailored – Your SWMS must address the specific hazards and risks in your current workplace.  You may use templates, but update them to suit your current workplace’s conditions.  You have to remember that each workplace is unique and therefore your SWMS has to also be unique.

Consultative – Work health and safety laws require that work health and safety measures are prepared in consultation with others.  After all, your workers and subcontractors, like yourself, have valuable experience in building and construction.  They will help you prepare SWMS that are based on best practices and past experience.

If you’re in charge of a site, it is your responsibility to take care of those around you. Create and put into action safety management plans and best practice work procedures. Educate your team on WHS and use construction ready Work Health Safety Software.