Welcome to the second in our series of blogs around managing health and safety in the construction industry. In this blog, we’ll be shedding light on the significance of Method Statements. If you’ve ever wondered about these essential documents and their role in project execution, you’ve come to the right place.
Method Statements are meticulous and strategic blueprints that outline the step-by-step procedures and safety measures necessary to carry out specific construction tasks. From the simplest activities to complex undertakings, these comprehensive documents play a pivotal role in ensuring projects are executed efficiently, safely, and in compliance with industry regulations.
Join us as we explore the ins and outs of Method Statements and their invaluable contribution to successful to ensuring construction site safety.
What is a method statement and why is it important?
A method statement is a document that describes how to carry out a construction site activity, safely. It is comprised of a set of clear instructions (methodology – plan) from arriving on site, carrying out the works, to leaving site at the end of the works. Once the method statement has been completed, a site briefing must be conducted to consult and record attendance (to ensure that everyone understands the safe system of work (SSOW) that needs to be applied, prior to any work commencing.
Note: the compilation of a method statement in itself is not a statutory duty, unlike a risk assessment. It is, however, a statutory duty within construction to compile a SSOW for all activities being undertaken. The Method Statement is the catalyst to ensure that this SSOW is in place.
Method Statements are critical for the safe planning/control and implementation of construction activities. All construction activities, as mentioned above, must only commence once an agreed SSOW has been established in accordance with our legal and moral duty as an employer. The Method Statement, combined with the Risk Assessment (RAMS), will identify the hazards and risks involved with the activity. This will allow the dedicated safety staff member to implement safety control measures to eliminate the risk, or to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
Who is responsible for preparing a method statement?
The responsibility rests with the employer, as they need to ensure that their workforce has a SSOW in place prior to any work commencing. This is a statutory duty and all employers must ensure compliance.
It is also the responsibility of all site-based CDM appointment holders (Principal Contractors/Trade Contractors) to ensure that RAMS are in place prior to works commencing. This ensures that the hazards are correctly identified, and that suitable and sufficient controls are put in place to eliminate or reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).
A method statement should be compiled by a competent person, normally a site manager or site supervisor who has attended one of the following CITB courses:
- SMSTS (Site Managers Safety Training Scheme) 5 day
- SSSTS (Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme) 2 day
In addition, a method statement can also be compiled by a competent person within your organisation that can demonstrate competence. i.e.
- A Health and Safety Professional
- A Technical Expert (qualifications or experience)
How often should a method statement be reviewed?
As an essential component of any construction project, the frequency of reviewing Method Statements holds utmost importance. So, how often should a method statement be reviewed? Regular reviews are a critical practice to ensure that construction activities proceed smoothly and safely. Industry best practices recommend conducting periodic reviews and updates to Method Statements, especially when there are changes to the project scope, site conditions, or legislation.
- Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that their risk assessments are compliant with current health and safety laws. If there are any changes in legislation, it’s important to review the risk assessment to ensure that it remains compliant.
- If improvements are made to working practices or equipment, it’s important to review the method statement & risk assessment to ensure that these improvements have been taken into account. This could include the introduction of new safety measures or the replacement of old equipment.
- If any accidents or near misses occur, it’s important to review the method statement & risk assessment to identify any areas where improvements can be made to prevent reoccurrence. This could include additional training or the introduction of new safety control measures.
How can technology be used to improve the preparation and implementation of method statements (RAMS)?
In today’s rapidly evolving construction landscape, leveraging technology has become a game-changer in enhancing the preparation and implementation of RAMS. By using health and safety software systems such as Notify you can:
- Increase efficiency – you can eliminate the need for paper-based systems (better for the environment) and reduce the time taken to create and distribute method statements. You can also create, reuse and repurpose templates, saving time on repetitive tasks whilst increasing productivity.
- Improve communication – you can enhance communication between project stakeholders. By utilising a central platform for sharing information, you can reduce the risk of miscommunication between your workforce and supply chain.
- Enhance risk management – By providing a centralised and structured approach to risk management, project managers can ensure that all risks are identified, assessed, and managed effectively
- Effectively control you documents– by using a digital SHEQ management system, you will improve the organisations documentation control process, ensuring that only controlled documents are utilised across your business and supply chain. This will also help to support CDM compliance.
Notify can also assist with the compilation of your (RAMS, through an approved, industry accepted process that meets CDM 2015, SSIP & ISO 45001 requirements:
Points To Remember
- A method statement is a document that describes how to carry out a construction site activity, safely. It is comprised of a set of clear instructions (methodology – plan) from arriving on site, carrying out the works, to leaving site at the end of the works.
- All construction work must have a site-specific method statement & risk assessment (RAMS) in place prior to works commencing.
- The responsibility rests with the employer. They should ensure that their workforce have RAMS in place prior to works commencing.
- The use of technology can increase productivity, improve communication, and enhance your risk management process.
By Chas Bray, Operations Director, Chas Safety Services
Further blogs to follow in this series covering health and safety in the construction industry:
- Blog 1 – Why is Health and Safety important in construction?
- Blog 3 – How to create a positive safety culture in the construction industry?
- Blog 4 – Technology solutions for improving safety on construction sites.
- Blog 5 – Preventing common injuries in the construction industry: A guide for employers.