South Australian builders and contractors are being reminded to ensure Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are prepared to reduce the risk of injury to workers.

Starting September 2021, SafeWork SA inspectors will be visiting construction sites across the state to ensure sites are managing high risk construction work (HRCW).

SWMS are used to identify the hazards and risks associated with HRCW and list the controls necessary to minimise the risk of injury to workers.

The Safe Work Method Statement 2020 audit report outlined the outcomes and recommendations including follow-up audits to be undertaken in 2021.

During the 2020 audit, 64 statutory notices were issued in response to non-compliances, including 47 Improvement Notices and 17 Prohibition Notices.

The largest areas of non-compliance related to a failure to prepare a SWMS before commencing HRCW and a failure to have adequate control measures in place to manage a risk of a person falling more than 3 metres.

These findings resulted in a recent compliance campaign focussing on managing the risk of falls in the residential construction industry.

The 2021 audits will have a greater focus on the civil construction sector.

The construction industry has been identified as a priority in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 with a national target to reduce the number of worker fatalities due to injury of at least 20%. SWMS are one key strategy relied upon to reduce this toll.

During audits, SafeWork SA Inspectors will be reviewing compliance against the following five areas:

  1. Identification of high risk construction work
  2. Compliance of SWMS
  3. The hierarchy of control has been considered for control methods
  4. Supervision
  5. Duties of Principal Contractors.

SafeWork SA has created a self-assessment checklist for contractors to use to measure compliance with their SWMS.

SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell said Principal Contractors also play a key role in ensuring high risk construction work is undertaken safely.

“Principal Contractors’ must have arrangements in place for the collection, assessment, monitoring and review of contractors’ SWMS”, said Mr Campbell.

SafeWork SA has developed guidance on the work health and safety (WHS) obligations and responsibilities of Principal Contractors. A template WHS management plan for a construction project is available to download.

Many businesses in the construction industry are either sole traders or very small, employing less than 20 people. If you have any questions you can visit safework.sa.gov.au or email us and a WHS Advisor will assist you.