Safe Work Method Statements

Great post on Linkedin by Sue Bottrell  HERE

What a debacle (dictionary definition – a fiasco)

The requirements around the preparation and implementation of safe work method statements must be one of the worst understood elements of health and safety legislation. Hence the preparation of (request for) SWMS for painting, sweeping (yes), manual handling, business as usual maintenance, and on and on it goes. And don’t get me started on who should prepare them, and who is responsible for implementing and monitoring their implementation. The legislation does not line up with the case law (or if it does it is so poorly worded that the average punter falls down the rabbit hole and drowns in unnecessary paperwork) and neither does the model WHS Construction Code of Practice

SWMS are only required in a very very very narrow set of circumstances. They are intended to require those who are working on major construction sites to take the time to consider any identified high-risk construction work (as defined) in the context it is occurring and consult with workers to come up with the best method of controlling those risks (a very good thing)

To be clear the employer/ PCBU undertaking the HRCW must prepare and implement their own SWMS i.e. builder prepares a SWMS for site work at height risks e.g hand railing on live edges AND the plumber prepares their own SWMS for safely installing guttering at height, and both the builder and plumber consult with each other as to how they will work together to be safe. Not shared duties, dual duties.

Preparation of SWMS before attending the worksite does not meet the requirements or intent of the regs, handing over templated SWMS does not meet the requirements or intent of the regs. Requiring Principal Contractors to collect, review or supervise SWMS prepared by contractors just drives these behaviors and is in conflict with long-established case law, is entirely ignorant of the reality of fast-moving workplaces, and DOES NOT IMPROVE SAFETY. This entire area of law is so confused and misunderstood the only remedy is to start again. So I have asked Santa to leave a bill to repeal the SWMS legislation in my Christmas stocking.

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