Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS): Why It’s Essential for Your Next Big Project

NateMeadows | February 19, 2021

While workplace safety is a priority for all businesses, it’s even more critical in the field service industry. The physical nature of field work combined with on-site hazards present a daily risk of injury to workers.

And despite all precautions and regulations, as the saying goes – accidents do happen. WorkSafe data for the Kiwi construction industry reports 557 safety incidents in 2020 – that’s an average 46 workers a month getting injured out on the job. More than half of these workers needed more than a week off work for injuries from lifting or moving objects.

That’s why minimising potential risks and being prepared are vital to a safe work environment for all workers. A Safe Work Method Statement (‘SWMS’) is a key document that ensures your whole team goes home safe every night. It also saves you valuable time on administration and complying with New Zealand’s workplace safety regulations.

What is a SWMS?

A SWMS document sets out the high-risk field activities to be carried out at a workplace, the possible hazards that each activity involves, and the control measures to be set up to monitor for risks.

It’s a valuable tool for managers, supervisors, and workers to share information and experience —making sure everyone understands their part in maintaining risk controls and keeping all team members safe onsite.

The principal contractor responsible for high-risk work should prepare the SWMS, discussing it with any workers who will be doing the job, as well as any supervisors and health and safety representatives. One SWMS can cover work involving different higher-risk work activities onsite.  

The leading contractor also needs to get an advance SWMS from any sub-contractor carrying out potentially risky work. To ensure compliance, a SWMS needs to be signed off on by everyone involved in the job.

The SWMS should be kept at the workplace where the field work will be carried out. 

Why is a SWMS necessary?

It’s easy for people to make mistakes, and during a physically tough working day, distractions and problems can arise. Having a SWMS reduces the possibility of human error and improves safety awareness and outcomes for everyone.

Your SWMS checklists and guidelines ensure your team won’t miss any steps or protocols that will keep everyone safe. For example, PPE is an integral part of on-site safety, so a checklist would include items such as face masks, eye protection, ear-muffs, sunscreen, hard-topped boots, gloves, and hi-vis clothing.

How to prepare a SWMS for your team 

A SWMS should be short and to the point, there’s no need to write a novel.  Concentrate on covering the specific hazards for any high-risk elements of your project and the control measures you are putting in place so that work is carried out safely.

Remember that the SWMS has to be clearly understood by all workers, so featuring some information in clear diagrams or pictures, as well as text, can be very helpful to communicate key points.

The key information to include:

  • Identify all high-risk field work related to this specific job
  • Identify any possible hazards and their risk to health and safety
  • Describe the control measures your team has agreed to
  • Specify how control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed

How a CRM helps with onsite safety

On a jobsite, paperwork and admin are basically a hassle. It’s hard to update an activity on a SWMS register when you’re also dealing with writing up paper invoices or having to verbally check-in with one of your techs.

FieldPulse, all-in-one job management software, was designed for tradies like HVAC, electricians, and plumbers.  We give sole traders, family-run trade businesses, and locally-owned businesses everything you need to run your jobs more efficiently:

  • Easily schedule and manage your team’s jobs and provide all the info they need to service the customer
  • Quickly create and send professional, itemised quotes and invoices out in the field, using your stored information, templates and signature sign-offs
  • And more!

Using an high-quality CRM solution gives you more control over your business and gives you the time to concentrate on how to make each jobsite the safest place it can possibly be.

Visit WorkSafe and Site Safe for additional information and resources on onsite safety. And schedule a quick demo with FieldPulse to discover how we can help upgrade your trade.

Try FieldPulse FREE for 14 Days

More Academy Insights

Safe Work Method Statement

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS): Why It's Essential for Your Next Big Project

While workplace safety is a priority for all businesses, it’s even more critical in the field service industry....


The Best Business Brains Do This When People Panic

All of us at FieldPulse are witnessing dramatic news emerge daily about the coronavirus and the economic impact...

fleet tracking

Managing Field Technicians: How Technology Lowers Risk

As a service business owner, it can be difficult to know what each of your field technicians is...