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15 August 2017
Health and Safety

How to Use a Safe Work Method Statement (Including Template)



A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is required of a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), as stipulated in Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011. It establishes the requirements specified for a high-risk construction to be conducted in a safe and healthy manner for contractors, builders, managers, workers and any other persons at the workplace.

A SWMS establishes a logical sequence of activities, identifies hazards and outlines control measures. Simple and complex activities are broken down into a sequence of basic steps to enable the systematic analysis of each activity for hazards and potential accidents.


Purpose of a Safe Work Method Statement

  • Describes activities and tasks to be undertaken
  • Systematically plans activities for efficiency and effectiveness
  • Identifies resources, manpower, and skills associated with each task
  • Evaluates and stipulates control measures

A SWMS is an administrative control tool that helps supervisors and workers confirm and monitor control measures in high-risk construction. It eliminates or reduces health and safety risks in support of sensitive functions such as engineering. A PCBU or a principal contractor engaging in high-risk construction is responsible for the preparation of a SWMS. It should be prepared before the project commences to manage risks to health and safety by eliminating or minimising risks as is reasonably possible.


Who Prepares a SWMS?

The person responsible for executing the high-risk construction project is best placed to develop the SWMS. This is in consultation with the workers or employees directly engaged in the project. Ideally, an SWMS is prepared by the builder for his employees or by the subcontractor for himself and his workers. However, the principal contractor, builder, and subcontractors should consult each other on who is best placed to prepare the SWMS. 

A collaborative approach to developing the SWMS ensures that all parties understand the process in detail and that the project is performed as per the document to mitigate associated risks. It should take into account factors in the workplace that may affect how the high-risk construction is carried out.

A SWMS is job specific and cannot be used for another project, however a template can be a great way to prepare new documents. The principal contractor should have a copy of the SWMS before the project commences, and it should be easy to read and understand. It is important that it is reviewed when necessary to cater for any changes in the project. A copy should be readily available for inspection and maintained until the project is concluded.


A SWMS Should

  • Identify the high-risk construction work
  • Specify hazards associated with the high-risk work and possible risks to health and safety linked to those hazards
  • Stipulate measures to be employed to control risks
  • Stipulate how the control measures are to be employed, monitored and reviewed


Benefits of a SWMS

  • Assists in meeting legal and compliance requirements for high-risk work
  • Provides a basis for inducting employees on the project's safety requirements
  • Helps minimise accidents and if there are any, there is a clear course of action
  • Increases productivity by avoiding downtimes caused by accidents
  • Minimises expenditure towards accidents
  • Ensures cohesion as everyone works towards common safety goals


Safe Work Method Statement Template

A Safe Work Method Statement is job specific, and creating a new document for every project or when there are minor adjustments is a waste of time and money. When using a SWMS template you can tailor the document for your project.


Why use a SWMS Template?

  • Increase speed
  • Ensure consistency and conciseness
  • Reduce errors
  • Save money


It is imperative that builders, contractors and other stakeholders involved in high-risk construction work implement a safe work method statement. This doesn’t only protect them and their workers from hazards, but also ensures that they adhere to compliance requirements, increase productivity, and minimise costs.


Download your safe work method statement template below.

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