Safe Methods of Working on Building Sites

Construction Site (© Shirley Radford 2017)Despite having the regulations to guide us and despite excellent health and safety on construction sites, workers are still being hurt. Why is this?

Most of the larger contractors, and many of the smaller contractors, have carried out their Risk Assessments and put in place Method Statements which outline 'how' the work needs to be carried out in order to keep the worker safe. But what are they if not followed? What can be done to ensure that they are followed?

Safe Work Procedure is a step by step description of a process when deviation may cause a loss. This risk control document created by teams within the company describes the safest and most efficient way to perform a task. A work method statement, sometimes referred to as a safe work method statement or SWMS or a safe work procedure, is a part of a workplace safety plan. This should be put in place by the main contractor on the site. It is their responsibility to ensure this plan is followed by all workers entering the site.

Method Statements are predominately used in construction to describe a document that gives specific instructions on how to safely perform a work related task, or operate a piece of plant or equipment. In many countries it is law to have work method statements, or similar, in place to advise employees and contractors on how to perform work related tasks safely.

The statement is generally used as part of a safety induction and then referred to as required throughout a workplace, they should outline all the hazards that are likely to be encountered when undertaking a task or process and provide detailed guidance on how to carry out the task safely.

These inductions should be carried out on a regular basis, in particular, if a specific piece of equipment is going to be used or if a specific procedure is going to be carried out. The aim is to reduce the danger to the person operating the equipment or undertaking the work. The Contractor should have a strict policy on when these inductions are done and records should be kept as to when they were done, who was inducted and what were they inducted on.

Nobody should be operating machinery, especially dangerous machinery, if they have not been 'recently' inducted in its operation. Likewise no person should be made to undertake a task unless they have had a recent induction and understand the Safe Method of Working.  Ultimately we are all responsible for our own safety, however, if an accident occurs, the HSE will track back to the induction records to see recent training. Keep your records up to date if you are the main contractor and if you are a worker don't ignore the safety plan process, these documents and processes are there for your protection.

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