{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research & forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports & data Inspiring Australia's building professionals Business & digital Products & innovation Projects HOUSING Online The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services How can safety solutions help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles Fuel savings Handy pay See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2023 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Safe work method statements

A safe work method statement needs to be prepared before any high risk work is carried out.

When do I need a safe work method statement?

If you are a person conducting a business or undertaking you need to make sure a safe work method statement (SWMS) is prepared or has already been prepared by someone else before any high risk construction work is carried out.

The definition of ‘High risk construction work’ under the new Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 is slightly different from that under the Occupational Safety and Health regulations and includes work that:

  • involves a risk of a person falling more than 2m;
  • is carried out on a telecommunications tower;
  • involves demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing or otherwise related to the physical integrity of the structure;
  • involves, or is likely to involve, the disturbance of asbestos;
  • involves structural alterations or repairs that require temporary support to require collapse;
  • is carried out in or near a confined space;
  • is carried out in or near:
    • a shaft or trench with an excavation depth greater than 1.5m; or
    • a tunnel;
  • involves the use of explosives;
  • is carried out on or near pressurised gas distribution mains or piping;
  • is carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines;
  • is carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services;
  • is carried out in an area that may have a contaminated flammable atmosphere;
  • involves tilt-up or pre-cast concrete;
  • is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic other than pedestrians;
  • is carried out in an area at a workplace in which there is any movement of powered mobile plant;
  • is carried out in an area in which there are artificial extremes of temperature;
  • is carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning;
  • involves diving work.

What needs to be in a SWMS?

A SWMS must:

  • identify the work that is high risk construction work;
  • state the hazards relating to the high risk construction work and the risks associated with those hazards;
  • describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks;
  • describe how the control measures are to be:
    • implemented,
    • monitored, and
    • reviewed.
  • take into account all relevant matters including:
    • circumstances at the workplace that may affect the way in which the high risk construction work is carried out, and
    • if the high risk construction work is carried out in connection with a construction project – the WHS management plan that has been prepared for the workplace.
  • be set out in a way that is readily accessible and understandable to persons who use it. A copy must also be available for inspection.

You also need to review SWMS and, as necessary, revise them.

How long does a PCBU need to keep a copy of a SWMS?

Until the high risk construction work to which it relates is complete.

However if a notifiable incident occurs in connection with the high risk construction work, you need to keep the statement for at least 2 years after the incident occurs.

What happens if the SWMS is not being followed?

You need to ensure that the work is stopped immediately or as soon as it is safe to do so. Work can only start again in accordance with the SWMS.

Does a copy of a SWMS need to be given to the principal contractor?

Yes, if the high risk construction work will be carried out on a construction project that involves construction work where 5 or more persons are, or are likely to be, working at the same time.

The person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) carrying out high risk construction work, must, before the high risk construction work commences give the principal contractor a copy of the SWMS.

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

Email us

Share with your network:
More articles on:
{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Find the latest expert advice, guides and much more!

Managing your safety topics


Can’t find what you need, check out other resources that might be closer to the mark.

Erecting scaffolds SWMS template

This Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) identifies high risk construction work activities associated with erecting scaffolds and details control measur...

Safe Work Method Statement template

A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) sets out high risk construction work (HRCW) activities to be carried out at a workplace, the hazards arising from ...

Stick wall frame and trusses SWMS template

This SWMS template identifies potential work health and safety hazards associated with stick wall framing and trusses.

Working at heights SWMS template

This Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) template outlines potential health and safety hazards associated with working at heights. It details typical co...

Working with ladders SWMS template

This Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) identifies high risk construction work activities associated with working with ladders and details control meas...