Workplace Contractor Management Safe Work Method Statements SWMS

Safe Work Method Statements

What is a safe work method statement?

And, why are safe work method statements important?

A Safe Work Method Statement, also referred to as a SWMS, is a document that outlines:

  • high-risk construction work that is to be carried out in the workplace,
  • the hazards that may arise from this activity,
  • the risk probability – i.e. the likelihood that a particular hazard may cause harm (injury, illness, or death) to a person, and
  • the steps and controls that can be put in place to manage, minimise, or even eliminate the risks.

Safe Work Method Statements are an integral part of workplace health and safety documentation and safety management.

What types of activities would be included in a SWMS?

Safe Work Method Statement Contractor Management

Typically, a SWMS is used for high-risk construction as this type of activity often involves working from heights, operating heavy plant and machinery, or working in locations where there may be other dangerous activities or risks.

Safe Work Australia, as well as each respective state and territory authority, detail 19 high risk work activities that should be covered in a SWMS for high risk worksites.

They include working:

  • at height of 2 metres or more (fall risks)
  • on or next to roads or train lines and the associated traffic
  • in, over or adjacent to water or other liquids (drowning risks)
  • where there is use of powered mobile plant
  • on structures that have temporary supports or scaffolding to prevent collapse
  • in extreme temperatures – heat or cold
  • on or near electricity or electrical services
  • with shafts or trenches deeper than 1.5 metres
  • on or near pressurised gas mains or pipes
  • with demolition
  • in confined spaces
  • with or near chemicals or fuels
  • with tilt-up or precast concrete
  • on communications towers
  • underwater – diving
  • with or near asbestos
  • with potential contaminated or flammable environments
  • with explosives
  • in tunnels

Who is responsible for preparing a SWMS?

Under the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) the obligation to prepare a SWMS is the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The PCBU may be the principal contractor or subcontractor.

Free templates and tools

Safe Work authorities at the national level and in each state and territory, offer a range of useful tools and resources for businesses to download and adapt for their use. Here’s a snapshot of templates and tools available:

How to inform workers about SWMS and safety documentation

Ensuring your workforce is fully aware of their workplace safety and compliance obligations from the outset is extremely important in managing work health and safety.

The onboarding and induction process is a valuable opportunity to share and inform your workforce on workplace operational policies and procedures, including educating workers on site-specific Safe Work Method Statements and other WHS documentation and procedures.

Altora Contractor Prequalification and Safe Work Method Statements

Online induction software like Altora’s Online Induction system, offers an easy to use, flexible and responsive solution to delivering workforce induction and training a timely manner. Customise your induction or training content to suit your business needs and deliver direct to your workers and contractors via a secure web link to complete anywhere, anytime.

You can also use Altora’s Online Induction to deliver regular training content such as Toolbox Talks and other company or worksite specific content.

Prequalifying and managing contractors

When engaging contractors, they can easily upload their Safe Work Method Statements for ease of recording, and employers can readily verify documentation to ensure its compliance and current. Altora’s contractor management system provides this added functionality to manage contractor prequalification, track worker progress, and store compliance records online, all in one central location.

Altora makes it easy to induct workers online and monitor contractor compliance, saving you valuable time, money and resources.


Talk to us

Get in touch with the team at Altora to find out more about our Online Induction software solution and how we can support your business.

Call 03 9329 7130, or email us today to find out more.

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