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Two contractors discussing WHS definitions

Within your industry, you most likely hear an abundance of acronyms and shortened terms thrown around on a regular basis. Many of these may be specific to your industry alone, however some may also be widely used across the entire Australian workforce – we’re talking about Work Health and Safety terms, or better known as, WHS definitions.

If you are responsible for the safety of your workers, you’ll be well aware of these common WHS definitions and terms. A collection of acronyms such as:

  • A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)
  • Work Method Statement (WMS)
  • Job Safety & Environment Analysis (JSEA)

Each of these WHS definitions refers to a document that describes how work is to be carried out safely and each document is used to manage the associated risks.

In this article, we will provide some understanding around these terms, and why a level of due diligence related to such WHS definitions is so important for understanding how to manage contractors successfully.

Understanding WHS definitions: SWMS & JSA

According to the WHS definitions of SWMS & JSA documents, their purpose is to provide a system from beginning to end for a task to be carried out with minimal disruption or harm to the immediate environment. They are usually detailed with a step-by-step process that is expected to be followed in order to avoid any safety issues. These SWMS and JSA documents should include details of:

  • The exact nature of the task and how that work is executed
  • Controls applied to the work activities to ensure ultimate safety
  • If there are any safety or environmental risks the documents detail what these are
  • Describes what action will be taken to carry out the work safely and responsibly in relation to the environment.
    • An outline of related legislation and standards to be adhered to
    • Accounting for machinery and equipment used to carry out the job and the qualifications of each worker involved

What is the difference between a JSA and a SWMS?

Both a JSA and a SWMS exist to make the workplace safer.

A JSA is a Job Safety Analysis that helps to combine health and safety principles and practices mapping it to a work task that involves some level of risk, for example in the act of operating a piece of machinery. A JSA will be created before a specific job or task is carried out.

A SWMS is a Safe Work Method Statement, a legal document that details the high-risk work activities taking place on a site where there are known hazards. Risks are managed by the safety measures that are put in place to minimise any accidents from occuring. The purpose of a SWMS is to document a dangerous activity that is conducted regularly as part of that job.

SWMS are used in the construction industry and are required for all high-risk work tasks, when conducting a risk assessment and preparing a SWMS, templates are often adapted when identifying hazards as the activities can be highly tailored. SWMS work well as a means of keeping record of worker tasks, whereas a JSA is a short form that outlines hazards associated with a specific role or task.

How do SWMS and JSAs fit into the bigger picture of contractor management?

A contractor management system (CMS) provides a facility for capturing this type of business documentation and information. With Sitepass, users can create custom forms to document vital information about a contractor’s business including their processes and source information relevant to the job or project being employed for. When contractors connect to a worksite, Sitepass allows you to capture site-specific information from your contractors, be that SWMS, work procedures, plant and equipment hazards, incidents or other information relevant to the job being performed at the location.

As well as safe work operating procedures Sitepass has the capacity to record other business documentation including:

  • Insurances
  • Registers
  • Contacts
  • Signed NDAs
  • Pre-work compliance
  • References
  • Corporate policies
  • Environmental compliance
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Staff training records
  • Audits
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Quality certification
  • Plant and equipment
  • Work and job history

Safety first is a must

Are you optimising your contractor management and site safety? With Sitepass we’ll have you and your contractors covered. Have your workforce complete training in these WHS definitions using our online induction software, so you can rest assured all contractors are familiar with these important industry terms and what they mean.