Method Statements


What is a Method Statement in construction?

Construction Method Statement
Actually a method statement in construction is no different from those in other industries. All method statements are written AFTER a risk assessment has been carried out.

They can go by different names, such as safety or work method statements or a plan of work. Whatever the name the aim remains the same. That is, to state how the hazard and risk controls identified in the risk assessment will actually be applied in practice.

Risk assessments and method statements are so intertwined that in the construction sector they are often referred to as risk assessment method statements (RAMS). RAMS are frequently asked for as part of any construction tender.

What is a Method Statement?

A method statement is just a health and safety document that is usually associated with high-risk work (but it can apply to any work activity). It describes how (the method), the job will be carried out safely.

The document must identify the potential hazards (taken from the risk assessment) and outline the necessary precautions put in place to ensure everybody's safety not just the workers carrying out the task. It should be written in a simple, easy to understand form - the HSE actively discourage long detailed documents. People are more likely to follow simple instructions rather than a long set of complicated advice.

Method statements, or more often RAMS, are sometimes used in the tender process to evaluate a company. By looking at the RAMS supplied a company's dedication to working safely and a safe working method can be examined.

So learning how to identify hazards and things with a potential to cause harm and to follow a risk assessment process. From which writing a method statement that uses the control measures to reduce the risks identified not only helps you work safely but may give you a better chance of winning contracts.

What is the difference between a Risk Assessment and a Method Statement?

A risk assessment is an examination of a task or process where anything that could cause harm or damage is identified. People or things that may be harmed or damaged are then identified, the risk then evaluated, control measures to reduce the risk decided upon. How you will decide if the control measures are working and what things will trigger you to re-examine your assessment.

As an employer or self-employed person, you must do a risk assessment but you only need to record it if you employee five or more people.

A safety method statement is not required by law. It is not concerned with identifying hazards, or evaluating risks or review dates. It is simply a document that states what the hazard is and how it has been decided to carry out the task so that the risk from the hazard is as low as reasonably possible. (ALARP).

How do I write a Method Statement?

Writing a method statement here’s a free safety method template for you to download.

Before we go any further you may find this HSE youtube video useful. So, now lets work through the steps in writing a method statement.

  1. At the top of your document state that it is a method statement, the people who may use it and what the task is. We will use a plumber removing an old bathroom suite as an example:

Method Statement – Plumber – Remove bathroom suite

  1. Next a fairly obvious one, who is doing it and for what purpose.

Prepared by: YOURCOMPANYNAME (ACME plumbing co)

For: NAME OF PROJECT/CONTRACT NUMBER (number 84 Acacia street)

  1.  Now describe the job or task, referred to as scope of works, we will carry on with our remove bathroom suite example

 Scope of Works

This method statement describes the work process for the following

  1. Start of works
  2. Isolate mains water supply
  3. Removal of old bath
  4. Removal of Wash Hand Basin
  5. Removal of toilet
  6. Finishing up.

4 So we have identified 6 individual steps to remove the bathroom suite. The risk assessment would then be consulted for each step to see what control measures, if any, had been decided upon to reduce any identified risks. So, in our example, here is what we would record;

Step by step process

Start of works

  1. Read any relevant risk and COSHH assessments, and follow guidelines for the correct PPE.
  2. Sheet up and protect work area and surrounding, including signage and barriers as required.
  3. Visually inspect work area and only begin works if it is a safe working environment.
  4. Cordon off work area if required to do so.
  5. Ensure the area to be worked and exit points are clear of obstruction and that safe access and egress is maintained.
  6. Check any electrical or hand tools for damage or faults, faulty or damaged tools must be removed from service immediately.
  7. Do not leave tools and equipment unattended at any time. 

Isolate mains

  1. Isolate incoming cold water supply at internal stop tap.
  2. If internal stop tap is perished or faulty, use a stop tap key to isolate property from road.
  3. Drain water out of system from the lowest point and disconnect appliances from pipework ready for removal.

Removal of bath

  1. Disconnect waste pipe from trap.
  2. Disconnect the taps at swivel couplers.
  3. Unscrew any fixing brackets, foot screws and sole plates as required.
  4. Peel off any silicone sealing bath to wall.
  5. Remove bath to safe location.

Removal of WHB

  1. Disconnect waste pipe from trap.
  2. Disconnect the taps at swivel couplers.
  3. Unscrew any fixings securing pedestal to floor and basin to wall.
  4. Peel off any silicone sealing WHB to pedestal and wall.
  5. Remove WHB and pedestal to safe location.

Removal of WC

  1. Disconnect the supply from the ball valve.
  2. Remove fixings securing cistern to wall.
  3. Disconnect the overflow pipe and remove the cistern to a safe location.
  4. Unscrew WC from floor and remove to a safe location.
  5. Seal soil pipe with sheet plastic and tape to prevent odours rising.

Finishing

  1. All tools and equipment will be cleared to secure storage at the end of each shift
  2. Staff will leave area clean and tidy at end of shift

Finally you would just record who wrote the document and when. The above example is from the HSE and more information is available on their web site.

Our course Covid -19 workplace preparedness covers in detail how to carry out a risk assessment, in this case for Covid-19 but the process is the same for any risk assessment.

Here is a free downloadable safety method template with an example already completed.