A Decision Tree for SWMS, JSAs and SWPs

Person at fork in the road

Last week I wrote an article “Can we please get SWMS, JSAs, SWPs etc under control?” Rather than just griping, I’ve put together a decision tree that may provide some help for when to use a SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) and when to use a JSA (Job Safety Analysis) or a SWP (Safe Work Practice).

Working with a client, we’ve developed a few rules for ourselves.

  1. If it’s for a task, it’s either a SWMS or a JSA. If it’s for a tool or piece of machinery, it’s a SWP.
  2. Use the regulatory definitions for High-Risk Construction Work that defines when a SWMS is required (see SafeWorkAustralia.gov.au brochure page 3). Even if it’s not a construction site, if the task is appropriate, e.g working on a third story roof for maintenance work, call it an SWMS.
  3. Use the same form for SWMS and JSA’s as they require similar information. For regulatory reasons, just have a tick box at the top to say whether it is a SWMS or a JSA. I’ll post our template in a few days if anyone wants it.
  4. Recognise that the regulations state the minimum requirement. The objective is to make sure that people get to go home at the end of the day, injury-free, so we have added additional information that we felt was necessary, e.g. what qualifications or training is required to carry out the task.
  5. We split JSA’s into High Risk and Low Risk with different minimum review periods. We have defined it such that High-Risk JSA’s need to be reviewed every time it’s used or at least every year. Low-risk JSA’s are reviewed every 2 years. If there is ever an incident or accident, the JSA has to be reviewed.

These rules helped us come up with this decision tree where this client has defined high risk and low risk as per the matrix below.

SWMS Decision tree
SWMS Decision Tree
Plain risk matrix

with thanks to Duy Nguyen who shared a slidepack that showed this type of risk matrix.

By the way, this matrix is not relevant for your organisation. Your circumstances are probably different and you must develop your own risk matrix.

Thoughts, comments, constructive criticism……..

Nigel Dalton-Brown, GAICD, AMIIA, MBA

Managing Director, Chair, Speaker, Lecturer, Author

Nigel is the Founder of Strytex and has been presenting and writing on Goverence, Obligational Awarenss, Risk Management and Compliance administration (GORC) since 2010.

Leave a Comment