SafeWork SA have released their 2020 report following compliance audits focussing on Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). This coincides with acceptance of an enforceable undertaking associated with a worker falling more than 3 metres.

Construction work is hazardous, dynamic and exposes workers to a variety of hazards and risks, potentially resulting in unacceptably high levels of injuries and fatalities. In recognition of this problem the construction industry has been identified as a priority in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022.

Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) for High Risk Construction Work (HRCW) are a key strategy relied upon to reduce this toll.

The compliance campaign was conducted from February to July 2020, following a recommendation from the SafeWork SA Elevating Work Platforms 2019 Audit Report.

Martyn Campbell, Executive Director SafeWork SA said, “The identification and control of risks in the construction industry is a priority focus area for us.

The release of this report coincides with the recent signing of an enforceable undertaking where a PCBU has committed to spending $93,500 after a worker received serious injuries while undertaking a high risk construction work activity.”

Every construction company, worker and stakeholder can play a role to eliminating or reducing these risks as low as reasonably practicable.”

Audit findings

SafeWork SA conducted 66 compliance audits across the construction industry, including 29 construction projects where a principal contractor was in management and control of the workplace.

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.

Safe work method statement compliance program 2020 audit report

“The report and the EU is a timely reminder to businesses and workers to identify high risk construction work activities before work starts and to ensure adequate controls are in place to eliminate or minimise, so far as is reasonably practical, the risks to people’s health and safety,” said Mr Campbell.