In a recent media release, SafeWork SA has stated that they will begin auditing high risk construction work from February 2020 onwards.
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, and exposes workers to numerous hazards, resulting in high levels of workplace injuries and fatalities.
There are 18 activities defined as High Risk Construction Work in the WHS Regulations, all of which having significant potential for serious harm.
Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are used to outline all high risk work activates for a given task, and identify the associated hazards and risk-prevention measures that should be taken to reduce the likelihood of damage.
For this reason it is important that SWMS are developed in collaboration with supervisors, workers, and all other site personnel such that all risks of high risk work are understood.
Regarding the SafeWork SA Auditing:
“From February 2020 SafeWork SA’s inspectors will be undertaking compliance audits on Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for high risk construction work (HRCW).
Inspectors will have a focus on compliance to ensure SWMS for HRCW are site specific and easily understood by workers including those from non-English speaking backgrounds. For example, pictures or diagrams may be a more effective way of communicating information.
This compliance focus is also in recognition of the construction industry being identified as a priority industry in the 2012-22 national work health and safety strategy.”
SafeWork SA has also indicated that generic SWMS are not acceptable unless made “site-specific”. Any generic SWMS must be reviewed and amended as necessary to suitably reflect the worksite’s environment and circumstances in which the high-risk construction work will be performed.
Another important note when designing SWMS – SafeWork SA recommends that duty holders not present too much additional information.
While you may include non-high risk work activities in a SWMS, it is important that the original purpose is not compromised or made ineffective in communicating how the high-risk activities will be conducted safely.