A method statement is an incredibly valuable document that can really bolster your business’ health and safety documentation. It helps to keep workers safe, ensures tasks and processes are carried out exactly as desired, and offers peace of mind that your business is fully compliant with all current health and safety legislation. This guide will look at exactly what a method statement is, how to write a method statement, and offer ideas on what to include in a method statement template. You’ll also find information on how to make sure your method statement is up to date with the help of health and safety experts.
A method statement is a document that outlines how a specific task should be carried out. This includes the tools and resources required, the people involved, and the individual steps to follow to complete the task. A method statement is a supplementary document to a health and safety risk assessment and is an extra layer of protection for businesses and workers.
A method statement is more commonly used in particularly high risk industries, such as construction and manufacturing. It’s especially pertinent for construction site safety where there are multiple hazards, all of a varying nature. Using method statements to clearly set out how to perform each task minimises the risks involved and leaves less margin for error.
Although a health and safety policy is a legal requirement for all businesses, a method statement is not. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly advises the use of a method statement in construction and other typically more dangerous industries. Using method statements is an effective way to establish safe systems of work and control dangerous situations to maintain the safest possible working conditions.
Risk assessments and method statements are two different things. A risk assessment is the first part of a health and safety policy in that it identifies and assesses potential risks. A risk assessment can outline ways to minimise those risks in general terms. A method statement is much more detailed, with very specific step-by-step instructions on how to safely carry out one distinct task. Where a risk assessment might advise operatives in the manufacturing industry to wear PPE, a method statement would list the actual PPE required for each part of the job. A risk assessment needs to be completed before a method statement to help identify which areas on which projects require individual attention. From there, relevant and concise method statements can be created.
A method statement needs to be a methodical and well-thought out document that covers all areas of the job to be done. In order to write an effective method statement, consider the following:
Why are you writing the method statement and what are the end goals? When you can define what you want to achieve, ie, reducing fire risks and maintaining operatives safety, it will be easier to plan how you will achieve this.
Write out exactly what the job is, for example, working at heights or welding. Knowing the scale of the task helps to understand what needs to be done.
This will have been done in some form as part of the overall risk assessment. Risk assessments and method statements go hand in hand, so use the original risk assessment to help define the job specific risks
List the resources that will be needed, including the number of people, any PPE, and other equipment like ladders or harnesses. A method statement should be very prescriptive when listing what items are to be used.
Write out sequential instructions that set out plainly how each task should be approached and completed. This can include information such as where and how to store flammable materials and any distances required to maintain a safe working environment.
Control measures are the ways in which you will manage and control the risks, for example, having two people present at all times. If risks are hard to reduce, then making sure they are monitored is equally valuable.
In the event of an emergency, a method statement should have the emergency procedures to follow. This can include fire safety protocols, details of first aid responders, or evacuation procedures.
You should regularly review any risk assessments and revise any details that may need updating due to things like personnel changes or new legislation. A new method statement should be completed for each project and each individual task.
It can be useful to create a method statement template that can be easily changed for each project and each job. It’s important to note that for every high risk task a new method statement will need to be created. This goes for new projects too. Even if the task on a new assignment is very similar to the previous one, it pays to alter the method statement to be sure that every nuance has been covered. Having a method statement template in place makes this process much easier and less time-consuming.
Things to have on your method statement template include:
A method statement template can look different for every industry and every project. The more detailed and distinct the method statement, the better.
The best way to ensure that your method statements are fit for purpose is to use health and safety experts who can audit your entire health and safety policy, and create method statement templates and detailed method statements for you. This removes any element of doubt, giving you total peace of mind that risks are reduced and safety is a priority.