Safe Work Method Statements now available from SAI Global
Just read a very interesting commentary by Kevin Jones on his SafetyAtWorkBlog: He writes:
On 30 November 2012, SAI Global announced a commercial arrangement with SafetyCulture for the sale of generic Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS), particularly for high-risk industries. This has caused something of a stir with some Australian safety professionals who claim that this runs contrary to good safety practice. The controversy of SWMS in Australia is a hot topic and one that is unlikely to be resolved soon, as it goes to the heart of some of the safety red-tape objections from the business sector.
…………….. frustration with how the myth of the SWMS has grown out of control and is seen as a joke by some, an inconvenience by most and a useful safety tool by few. The SWMS system and regulatory expectations need a reboot across Australia and particularly in the high risk construction sector where SWMS could be of the greatest practical use. Issuing templates is not helping in this need for revision but SAI Global has long been a commercial leopard that seems to have no intention of changing its spots and needs to develop more commercial products to rebuild its profitability. Sadly it seems to be a short-sighted leopard.
Anyone who buys Standards and other safety related documentation would know SAIGlobal. They have just signed a deal with SafetyCulture Pty Ltd to publish and sell their pretty extensive range of Safe Work Method Statements.
Of course, like anything related to essential OHS documentation, these are not cheap (around $90). I have no problem with that as I know the amount of work that goes into producing standards and other documentation and that these people have kids to feed. In fact, the reality is that if you were to sit down and work out how much actual time you put into developing a SWMS then multiply that by your hourly rate, I reckon you would be quite staggered – soooo, 90 bucks is a pretty cost effective and efficient way to do this.
What I do have a problem with is Generic Safe Work Method Statements. I see them all the time…… a huge, impressive looking document produced to satisfy some clients administrative safety system monster, hungry for onerous paperwork. Problem is the people working with them have no idea what is in them and they usually bear little resemblance to the ACTUAL work method! I often think that someone has really put their arse on the line putting these forward and/or signing off on them.
Generic Safe Work Method Statements are a great idea as a starting point but you MUST modify and adapt them to suit your particular needs. I haven’t bothered to read the new WHS Harmonised Safety Laws in detail but I am pretty sure that they have an extended obligation for anyone in charge of a workplace to consult with those doing the work – that is just good practice anyway!!!
For those of you more driven by production costs than safety (and that is most of you as I am not naive enough to think that safety is ever THE No1 priority, even in a Zero Harm company!) – guess what……sitting down with the people doing the work and developing a REAL safe work method statement (base it on a bought one if you have to) will usually always result in finding more efficient (and safer) ways of performing the task.