SWMS, JSA, SOP… What’s the difference?

Confused by all the different terms used in Workplace Health and Safety? Let our Gold Coast Safety Consultants help you understand what the differences are.

Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)

Under a range of state OHS and WHS legislation, certain High-Risk work tasks, require a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS). Furthermore, some companies require sub-contractors to prepare a SWMS for work that they are going to do for them.

The usage of the term SWMS has increasingly been applied outside of high-risk construction work and this is where some of the confusion has arisen from.

A SWMS is different from other risk assessment documents such as a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or a Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) as it is not intended to be a procedure but rather a document which is prepared in consultation with all relevant persons.

Compliance with the SWMS is mandated. Non-compliance with the preparation of a SWMS can lead to an order to stop work as well as a financial penalty.

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

There are many different terms for a job safety analysis; Job Safety and Environment Analysis (JSEA), Task Hazard Analysis (THA), Safe Job Analysis (SJA), Pre-Work Safety Check however a JSA is the term you will find in the legislation and all these terms mean the same thing.

A JSA focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. All JSAs developed must be specific to the job being performed. JSAs should be performed at the job site prior to carrying out the job. The role of a JSA is to break down a job into basic steps.

A JSA is a regular evaluation of a specific job. It is generally a one-page document that workers use to record specific conditions on the day the job is to be completed, which may affect how they will perform the job.

A JSA is conducted to identify potential hazards involved with the job and to document how the job can be performed safely. A JSA is usually created if:

  • there is no SOP or SWMS in place for the job; or
  • conditions change, meaning the SOP or SWMS needs to be reviewed.

JSAs are particularly important if conditions are different to what workers had anticipated when they arrived at a worksite.

A JSA simply means looking at the work task and considering what is the safest way to complete it. A JSA should only be used as a basic low-level hazard identification risk assessment tool.

Safe Operating Procedure or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

A safe operating procedure (SOP) is a written document that provides step-by-step instructions on how to safely perform a task or activity in the workplace. It can also be referred to as a standard operating procedure (SOP), safe work procedure (SWP) or a safe work instruction (SWI). Their main purpose is to standardise a production or work task. By doing so employers can improve efficiency and quality and prevent safety incidents.

Why do you need safe work procedures?

  • they make workers aware of the risks in their work tasks and tell them how to avoid injury or illness while doing those tasks;
  • they document the risks associated with a work task and list the appropriate risk control measures into a sequence of steps for doing the task safely; and
  • they identify the PPE required, pre-operational safety checks, operational safety procedures, housekeeping and outline potential hazards and forbidden activities.

SOP’s should be very detailed on “how” to accomplish a specific job, task or assignment.

Take Five

A take five is used for a simple one-person task that is usually only performed for one shift. The take 5 for safety process is a simple and effective way to increase safety awareness. The process is basically about taking 5 minutes to think about the hazards of the job. A take 5 does not replace a SWMS, JSA or risk assessment but rather engages the person to prepare the mind before the hands.

Pre-Starts Meetings

Prestart meetings are required to keep workers up to date with the latest and most relevant safety, productivity and training information. Pre-start meetings play an essential role in this. They act not only as a forum for the planning of daily site activities, but also as a news service providing workers with important industry and site information.

Do you need help with your health and safety documentation and processes?

Industryus’ Gold Coast Safety Consultants can assist your business to get the right documentation and tools in place to manage workplace risks more effectively. Contact us here to book in a Free Introductory Call or meeting at out Gold Coast Safety office.

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