What is a method statement?
Method statements are commonly required for construction related project work.
A method statement will spell out key information to ensure that work is carried out safely and in line with associated risk assessments.
How do you write a method statement?
There is no definitive presciptive format for a method statement, so it's important to remember that the purpose it serves is to provide information to help keep people and the work environment safe.
In its very simplist form, it is easy to remember what should be included if you think in terms of '5Ws. How?' That will cover the essential steps, and when supported with considerations for emergency preparedness and effective communication, you'll end up with a good basis for an effective method statement.
What type of activity is going to be carried out? E.g.
Installation of a stairlift in a residential building
Installation of a green roof
Construction of a new factory unit
Cleaning at a new build site
Installation of electrical monitoring system
It is helpful to consider "Why must it be completed now?" The answer to this may help to influence the priority of the job. Real examples from some of our clients include:
"to allow the user of the stairlift to safely return home" tells us that a vulnerable person may not be able to get back to the comfort of their own home until this job is completed. This in turn may put pressure on stretched healthcare services in the community, and therefore has the potential to impact on more than just the individual for whom a stairlift is being fitted.
"treework needs to be completed out of the bird nesting season" indicates that whilst there is a time-senstive element to the work, there is an opportunity to complete it out of bird nesting season, which means that it can safely be scheduled from September to January and still comply with the requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Location (address) of where the work will be carried out.
You should indicate when the activity will be undertaken. For a short duration project (e.g. intallation of a stairlift), you may be able to provide a time and date.
For longer projects, you may be able to give a start date and an indication of the expected duration of the project (e.g. 12 months).
You should be able to name the people that will be undertaken the work, along with their job role and relevant skills. The project team may consist of direct employees and / or subcontractors, but you should have confidence that anybody carrying out work on your behalf carries the relevant skills or checks (e.g. Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks are often required for personnel working in schools or in work places with vulnerable adults).
(Note that for anybody identified in this section, there should be evidence that the requirements of the job and associated hazards have been communicated to them. See 'communication' below).
When thinking about the methodolgy associated with
The job steps or tasks will often be influenced by the type of job being undertaken, but will typically follow the same sequence. For instance, a simplified series of job steps for a cleaning company providing a first, second and sparkle clean to ensure that new build apartments are ready for residents to move into might expect to follow a series of steps such as:
Arrive on site
Park in the designated parking area
Unload cleaning equipment and supplies
Report to the site office on arrival
Attend site specific induction
Wear desginated PPE when moving around the site (and before leaving the site office)
Follow designated pedestrain routes to gain access to apartments for cleaning
The actual steps involved in the cleaning process will depend on which stage of the build and cleaning the apartment is at, but the sparkle clean may look something like this:
Sparkle clean to be performed after final snagging and only once confirmed by the Site Manager
Clean all surfaces (inlcuding mirrors)
Exit site through the site office
When thinking about the hazards and the associated control measures associated with the above steps, it should be possible to refer back to a corresponding risk assessment. Continuing with the example of the cleaning company working on a construction site as above, several hazards may exist, including:
Movement of plant and equipment
Slips, trips and falls on uneven ground during the construction phase
Work at height (for window cleaning in the first clean)
Exposure to inclement weather conditions (especially on the first clean where exterior cleaning of windows will be carried out)
Transporting water on site (manual handling)
Use of electrical equipment
Permits to work
Where necessary, it may be necessary for permits before certain types of work can be carried out. Activites which often require permits to work include:
Work at height
(Note that this list is not exhaustive!)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Whilst PPE may be designated in indvidual risk assessments, it is good practice to include a summary of the PPE that must be worn (preferably in a visual format) within the body of the Method Statement.
No matter how well you plan your activities, there is always the possibility that an emergency situation can arise, and there is no doubt that it is easier to implement if you have planned ahead.
Typically, you might include a consideration of things like:
Who are your first aiders?
How would you deal with a spillage?
Where is the nearest hospital?
Obviously, the precise nature of emergency plans will depend upon the work being carried out.
Communication and review
If the method statement is never communicated to the workforce, then it doesn't matter how well it's written, it will never keep anyone safe. So it is essential that you have an effective means of communicating the contents of the method statements to the workforce.
If yours is a big project, with a long duration, then it is entirely foreseeable that things will change. That's okay - provided that you ensure that if you review and update the method statement (and associated risk assessments) that you communicate the changes back out to the workforce.
Done well, a method statement will help to make it easy to demonstrate that you have implemented effective controls to ensure that safe and effective delivery of your project.
If you would like help in setting up your method statements, call us on 029 2070 3328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To elevate your Method Statements and to benefit from effective templates that can be tailored for each project, book a free demonstration of the newest module in our Mango compliance software, the Method Statement module