Owner Builder Safe Work Method Statements
Owner builders need to understand that as previously discussed, as the Principal Contractor, they are totally responsible for the safety of their owner builder project site.
One of the responsibilities is the requirement to sight all Safe Work Method Statements that relate to High Risk Activities undertaken on the site.
A Safe Work Method Statement is a control document which identifies the hazards and risks associated with the tasks associated with the High Risk Activity. Further the owner builder needs to be aware that the SWMS details the controls which are to be put in place and how the works are to be carried out to ensure the risk management principle of As Low As Reasonably Practical (ALARP) is maintained.
The document (SWMS) is generally prepared by the contractor performing the works.
The owner builders responsibility is to ensure the required SWMS are in place, recorded and retained on site and available to all affected persons working on or visiting the site.
The owner builders obligation does not stop there. Once the SWMS are collected and retained, it is then necessary to ensure the specified controls and methods of work are complied with. If not, it is the Owner Builders responsibility to ensure affected works are stopped immediately, the area made safe and not re commenced until the appropriate controls are put in place.
It is important to understand that a SWMS is not the same as a task specific detail such as a Job Safety Analysis or a Safe Operating Procedure. It is rather, a tool to allow the owner builder or person responsible for the work site to monitor the control measures.
A SWMS must identify the High risk Activity, specify the associated hazards and risks, describe the control measures or mitigators to be implemented and how they are to be monitored and reviewed.
Whilst generic SWMS are useful and can even be used to assist in identifying hazards and risk, it is important for the owner builder to ensure they are relevant and specific enough to cover the works as they are to be carried out.
In respect to maintaining the SWMS records, legislation requires the SWMS to be on site or in a place that they may be quickly retrieved. Electronic copies are acceptable.
In upcoming blogs, we will discuss the methods owner builders can use to identify hazards and risks on their projects and how to decide on appropriate controls that need to be implemented.
Abacus Training provides it's owner builder students with templates which can be used to form the basis of a SWMS, this helps in reviewing contractor produced SWMS to check for completeness and appropriateness of controls.
Remember, safety is everyone's responsibility but as the owner builder and therefore the Principal Contractor, the buck stops with you.
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.