The HSE website advises that a method statement should set out “in a logical sequence exactly how a job is to be carried out in a way that secures health and safety and includes all the control measures.”
“Never mind the quality, feel the width.” A phrase used to persuade you that quantity is more important than quality. It originated from unscrupulous London backstreet tailors palming you off with cheap material instead of the good stuff for your suit.
Is this the same with your safety documentation?
One of the things we are most often asked is whether we can provide method statements to “satisfy the health and safety”.
Whilst we are always happy to assist our customers, in most cases the purpose of these documents is being overlooked. Too many times it seems that the number of pages, size or layout of the method statement seems to be what is most important, with little consideration given to whether it conveys to the workforce how they can complete the task safely.
It is far better to produce method statements that are concise and can be followed by employees rather than those which impress by their size.
Instead of ticking boxes or filling page after page with policy extracts and generic information, employers should concentrate on setting out sensible control measures that can be easily adopted, so that complying with them is easier than not. The method statement is a plan of work and an opportunity for management to identify what their workers need to be safe.
Put simply, if the right equipment isn’t to hand and workers have to seek it out, they will come up with their own solutions.
If an employee needs a step ladder to work at height, how many treads should it be? Otherwise, when they arrive on site with a 6-tread ladder when an 8-tread is required, what do you expect them to do?
So, work with your team to determine how easily and best the task can be carried out, ensure that you provide them with the right training, tools and materials and make sure that complying is easier than not.
If you want people to be safe, you have to make working safely easier than not.