Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are an important tool to use within the Construction Industry for High Risk Construction Work (HRCW). We’ve listed the common myths we hear across the industry to help you get a better understanding of what really matters when it comes to using a SWMS, and how you can make sure your SWMS is going to help keep you and your workers safe.
Myth – You need to include all the relevant Health and Safety Legislation, Standards and Codes of Practice/Compliance Codes on the SWMS
Fact – It isn’t a legal requirement to include all the relevant Health and Safety Legislation, Standards and Codes of Practice/Compliance Codes on the SWMS. Some companies, particularly larger ones, might ask their contractors to include this information. You might want to consider using a SWMS template.
Myth – A SWMS has to be on paper
Fact – The SWMS should be kept at the workplace where the work is being carried out. It can be in electronic format (such as a SWMS App) or in a paper format as long as it is readily available to workers involved in the work, and for the entire time they are doing the work.
Myth – You need to include a Risk Matrix and score the hazards and controls on the SWMS
Fact – It isn’t a legal requirement to include a Risk Matrix or score the hazards and controls on the SWMS, however some companies (particularly big ones) might ask their contractors to do this.
Myth – A SWMS doesn’t need to be kept after the HRCW has finished
Fact – In most cases, a SWMS doesn’t need to be kept after the HRCW has finished, however if you have a notifiable incident it’s likely you will need to keep a copy of the SWMS for two years after the incident date. Notifiable incidents are incidents where there is a serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident and there are certain criteria which can help to identify these types of incidents. If you have a notifiable incident we recommend you check with your Regulator (e.g. WorkSafe, Safe Work) about your requirements or HazardCo members can reach out to our Health and Safety Advisory team for incident support and advice.
Myth – Once a SWMS is developed, you don’t need to review or change it
Fact – Not true! If the control measures don’t adequately control the risk, it needs to be reviewed and changed. This might happen when:
At any stage, if work is not being carried out in line with the SWMS make sure work stops immediately (or as soon as safe to do so) and only resumes after the SWMS has been reviewed.
Remember, if you’re using a SWMS template, it needs to be specific to the site and the HRCW being conducted. Find out if your SWMS templates are up to scratch.
Myth – A SWMS can only include content relevant to the HRCW
Fact – Only hazards and risks that are directly related to HRCW activities need be included in a SWMS. You can add non HRCW hazards and risks if it makes sense, but don’t overdo it. We suggest removing anything unrelated to the high risk construction work to keep it simple.
Myth – A SWMS is required for all high-risk work
Fact – A SWMS is only required for the following High Risk Construction Work (HRCW) :
You must complete a SWMS before undertaking any high-risk construction work, so we’ve made it as simple as possible. The HazardCo App includes 25 easy-to-edit SWMS templates as well as all the other health and safety tools you need to protect your crew and your business. Get a free trial.