The purpose of a method statement is to ensure, where safety critical, work is carried out in a particular sequence. There are few examples where their definitive requirements are laid done by statute or other regulatory standard. Where they do exist they are predominantly for high-risk activities such as licensed asbestos removal, demolition and steel erection. In these cases, not only is a method statement a legal requirement, but also its structure and format are clearly defined.
The general principle of ensuring a safe system of work applies to all work activity and as such a method statement is an ideal way to prove that the risks associated with a particular activity has been carefully considered and appropriate controls implemented.
However for lower risk activities it may be sufficient to rely on a combination of operator competence and comprehensive risk assessment in achieving a safe system of work.
Method Statement Format
The actual method statement format is dependent on the work being undertaken and the organisation arrangements in place but generally the following headings should be present:
1. Organisation/company in control of the operation
2. Named individual responsible for the activity and its safety
3. Name of method statement originator and authorisation date
4. Arrangements for changing/deviating from method statement
5. General description of activity
6. Location of activity including access and restrictions
7. General working environment considerations, e.g. temperature and wind speed
8. Protection of others, e.g. members of the public
9. Emergency procedures, including location of emergency equipment
10. Identity of operatives (and any specific training or certification required)
11. Requirements for Personal Protective Equipment
12. Plant and equipment used, including safety precautions and restrictions
13. Materials information e.g. hazard information and storage/transport requirements
14. Work sequence, including associated risks and required control measures for each stage.
15. Safety checks/clearances at specific stages
16. Final clearance that activity is completed to specification
17. Any other additional information that may be relevant
The list above is not exhaustive and a method statement may or may not include each and every item. However as a minimum it must achieve the following objectives:-
• It should be up to date, identifiable and its source accountable
• It should contain the sequence of works
• It should identify the associated risks and control measures
• It should state actions/authorisation required to deviate from method statement
A method statement can be as simple or as detailed as the job/risk requires, so long as it meets the four main objectives.
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