Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement

Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS Template) delivered in Microsoft Word format for easy editing.

Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement

Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

Whether you need to get on site to start work, looking to create a safe work environment or pitching for that next government tender - the Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement is easy to customise, easy to use and easy to integrate into your current Safety Management System. If you don't have a Safety Management System, we need to talk, seriously, you don't need to be carrying that level of risk exposure in your business - we can help.

Look, we understand that business should be rewarding and not consumed by tedious red tape. The Safe Work Method Statement Template we create is in an easy to understand format, while at the same time being some of the highest quality documents in the industry. Our SWMS documents get you onsite, save you loads of time and are very user-friendly. This way, you can get on with doing what you do best.

The Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) covers the following Job Steps, including potential hazards, control measures and risk ratings:

  1. Planning and preparation
  2. Training and capabilities
  3. Assess onsite conditions
  4. Set up work area
  5. Temporary Traffic Control (TMP)
  6. Delivery of materials and equipment
  7. Identification
  8. Risk assessment and entry permit or written authority
  9. Entry into confined spaces
  10. Monitoring of confined spaces
  11. Working in confined spaces
  12. Return to service
  13. On completion

The Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement Includes


Risk Assessment Matrix | Hierarchy of Controls | PPE | Emergency Response

Your Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement is ready to be used in three easy steps:

  1. Add your company logo and details to the SWMS Template.
  2. Identify site specific risks.
  3. Address any site specific risks and add them to your SWMS Template.

Now that your Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is ready for use, you can also make the SWMS document available as a training resource for activities such as WHS-OHS Toolbox Meeting Talks or Workplace Inductions.

Bluesafe Quick Tips:

  1. Look out for and find the hazards. If you have a confined space, you must identify all the risks associated with that workspace.
  2. Assess the risks, control risks and review risk controls.
  3. Make sure that the confined space is well-ventilated, you can even try using forced-air ventilation.

Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement

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View a Safe Work Method Statement Example

See an example of a Safe Work Method Statement Template below. All our SWMS Template documents are comprehensive in nature, easy to use, and are a huge time saver. Our Safe Work Method Statement Templates are quick and easy to customise to your specific business or operation and are perfectly suited for every day use, for larger contracts and tenders right through to qualifying for contractor management platforms such as CM3.

What is a Safe Work Method Statement?

A SWMS is a document that outlines the high-risk construction work activities that will be performed at a workplace, the hazards that will be present as a result of these activities, and the controls that will be implemented to mitigate the risks.

A single SWMS can be utilised for numerous high-risk construction work activities, such as employing powered mobile plant, working at heights of more than 2 metres, and working near to a road that is used by traffic other than pedestrians.

A SWMS is an administrative control that is used to support higher-order controls, such as engineering controls, that are designed to remove or reduce hazards to health and safety.

A SWMS differs from other documentation such as a Job Safety Analysis or a Safe Operating Procedure in that it focuses on specific jobs or processes. A SWMS isn't meant to be a procedure; rather, it's a tool for supervisors and workers to check and monitor the workplace control measures. For high-risk work activities, a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking)  must prepare a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) or check that one has been prepared before starting work. It is important to note that before any work process has started, a SWMS must be prepared.

A PCBU, on the other hand, also must manage health and safety hazards by eliminating or reducing them as much as possible. Before beginning any work on a project, the principal contractor must also obtain a copy of the SWMS.

What information does a Safe Work Method Statement need to contain?

A Safe Work Method Statement should identify high-risk work and any specify hazards related to high-risk construction work as well as any health and safety risks. The SWMS should describe the risk-control measures to be implemented, monitored, and reviewed and also should describe how the risk-control measures will be effective at reducing or eliminating the risk, and how they will be implemented, monitored, and reviewed.

A Safe Work Method Statement should be concise and focus on outlining the specific risks identified for the high-risk work to be performed, as well as the control measures to be implemented to ensure that the work is completed safely.

A long and overly complex Safe Work Method Statement which could be difficult to comprehend, implement and monitor or review may be confusing for workers to mentally digest and therefore is not ideal in helping to reduce or eliminate risks in the workplace. It is imperative that workers, and especially those who do not speak English, are able to understand the Safe Work Method Statement. Consider having pictures or diagrams added to the SWMS as a more effective way of presenting information contained within the SWMS.

The SWMS should also contain other regulatory requirements to protect health and safety of all personnel, such as controlling noise exposure and manual job risks. Also, keep in mind that evidence of a completed risk assessment may be required by the regulator or for auditing reasons if the Safe Work Method Statement is based on a workplace-specific risk assessment.

Who's Responsible for creating the Safe Work Method Statement?

In collaboration with workers who will be directly engaged in the activity, the person responsible for carrying out the work is usually best equipped to prepare the SWMS document. In most cases, this means that a Safe Work Method Statement is created by the builder for his or her employees, or by the subcontractor for their employees.

To establish who is in the best position to prepare the Safe Work Method Statement, the principle contractor, builder, and/or subcontractors should decide who will take responsibility for the SWMS.

It's also a requirement that all managers, contractors, supervisors, and workers be involved in the creation of a Safe Work Method Statement. Workers must be consulted so that they understand the SWMS in depth and what they must do to establish and maintain risks and implement control measures to manage the risk. Sharing information and utilising workers' knowledge and experience may also aid in ensuring that the task is completed in accordance with the SWMS.

If your workplace has a Health and Safety Representative, they should also be contacted while creating a Safe Work Method Statement.

What does the principal contractor's responsibility entail?

Before beginning work, a principal contractor must take all reasonable steps to obtain a SWMS from any contractor performing high-risk work. If no SWMS exists, the principal contractor must arrange for one to be created, for example by the contractor or subcontractor.

A general contractor should establish plans to ensure that high-risk work is carried out safely and in compliance with the Safe Work Method Statement. This can be done by keeping an eye on how the SWMS is being implemented on the ground.

The principal contractors' WHS management plan must also include detailed arrangements for collecting, assessing, monitoring, and reviewing the SWMS, according to the WHS Regulations.

How to Write a Safe Work Method Statement 

If you're looking to write your own Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement, the first step is to create the document as a Safe Work Method Statement Template. This way, you can use the same SWMS Template and then adjust the document for each different glazing project as needed, making sure that your Confined Spaces SWMS Template addresses any site specific risks. 

The fastest and most cost effective solution would be to purchase a Bluesafe Confined Spaces SWMS Template. However, if you decide to take the route of writing your own confined spaces SWMS.

There are some fundamental requirements and information which you may want to consider adding to your Confined Spaces SWMS such as:

  • Details of the person(s) responsible for making sure implementation, monitoring and compliance of the Confined Spaces SWMS as well as any reviews and modifications.
  • Any information detailing safety meetings or toolbox talks in relation to confined spaces work, scheduled in accordance with legislative requirements to first identify any site hazards where the confined spaces work is being conducted, secondly, communicate the risks and hazards and then take steps to eliminate or control each hazard in relation to the confined spaces work being done.
  • Any changes added to the Confined Spaces SWMS after an incident or a near miss.

Note: The Confined Spaces SWMS must be kept and be available for inspection at least until the confined spaces work is completed. Where the Confined Spaces SWMS is revised, all versions of the SWMS Template should be kept. If a notifiable incident occurs in relation to the Confined Spaces Safe Work MethodStatement, the Confined Spaces SWMS must be kept for a minimum of two years from the date of the incident.

Your Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement Template should list any high risk construction work, such as:

  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve a risk of a person falling more than 2 meters?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out on or near pressurised gas mains or piping?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out on a telecommunication tower?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve demolition of an element related to the physical integrity of a structure?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve, or is likely to involve, disturbing asbestos?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve tilt-up or precast concrete?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve structural alteration or repair that requires temporary support to prevent collapse?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in or near a confined space?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in an area of a workplace where there is any movement of powered mobile plant?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in/near a shaft or trench deeper than 1.5m or tunnel involving use of explosives?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in areas with artificial extremes of temperature?
  • Is the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning?
  • Does the confined spaces work outlined in the Confined Spaces SWMS involve diving work? 

Your Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement should also identify any high-risk machinery or equipment in operation near the work site, such as:

Your Confined Spaces SWMS should also list any Personal Protective Equipment such as:

  • Foot Protection - Boots or closed in shoes
  • Hand Protection - Gloves
  • Head Protection - Hard hat or helmet
  • Hearing Protection - Ear plugs or ear muffs
  • Eye Protection - Safety glasses, goggles or face shields
  • Respiratory Protection - Face masks etc
  • Face Protection - Face shield, welding mask etc
  • High Visual Clothing
  • Protective Clothing - Overalls etc
  • Fall Protection - Safety harness, edge protection etc
  • Sun Protection - Sunscreen, hat etc
  • Hair and Jewellery Secured - Hair Net, etc 

The Confined Spaces SWMS must be reviewed continually to ensure it remains effective and relevant. The Confined Spaces SWMS must be reviewed (and revised if necessary) if relevant control measures in relation to confined spaces work are revised. The review process should be carried out in consultation with workers (including contractors and subcontractors) who may be affected by the Confined Spaces and their health and safety representatives who represented that work group at the workplace.

When the Confined Spaces SWMS has been revised, the person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure:  

  1. All persons involved in the confined spaces work are advised that a revision has been made and how they can access the revised Confined Spaces SWMS;
  2. Persons who will need to change a work procedure or system as a result of the review are advised of the changes in a way that will enable them to implement their duties consistently with the revised Confined Spaces SWMS; and,
  3. Workers that will be involved in the confined spaces work are provided with the relevant information and instruction that will assist them to understand and implement the revised Confined Spaces SWMS. 

When preparing your Confined Spaces SWMS, here are some topics you might want to also include to ensure you have covered as many risks and hazards as possible.

Planning and Preparation When Working With and Around Confined Spaces. 

When writing your Confined Spaces SWMS, establish any policies, procedures and systems for working with Confined Spaces in consultation with the Principal Contractor and workers while being sure to establish:

  • Health and Safety guidelines for confined spaces work
  • Emergency plans and evacuation procedures for the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Worker inductions for Confined Spaces
  • Toolbox talks (safety meetings) added to the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Outline details of supervision of the site and workers on the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Check all workers qualifications, permits and competencies for Confined Spaces operations
  • Ensure the Confined Spaces and any related equipment is functioning correctly
  • Hazard reporting procedures in place and added to the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Incident reporting procedures in place and added to the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Exclusion zones when conducting confined spaces work
  • Risk Assessment for TASK completed and noted on the Confined Spaces SWMS
  • Electrical NO GO ZONES identified, discussed and documented. 

Assessment of Site Conditions 

Thoroughly assess the work site/area conditions when working with confined spaces and ensure that:

  1. A risk assessment of the confined spaces work is conducted
  2. Suitable access and adequate space to conduct confined spaces work safely
  3. Consult with all stakeholders on potential hazards and risks when conducting confined spaces work
  4. Consultation with all relevant workers and personnel for Confined Spaces SWMS details
  5. If conducting Confined Spaces at night, ensure there is adequate lighting
  6. Check that the work environment is suitable for confined spaces work

Confined Spaces Training and Worker Qualifications 

Ensure all workers have the appropriate licenses in conducting Confined Spaces as well as any qualifications that may be required for various confined spaces projects before starting work. If White Cards are required, retain copies of all cards, licenses and qualifications of personnel.All personnel must: 

  1. Be trained and/or have received instructions on the Confined Spaces SWMS including all safety and emergency procedures.
  2. Be qualified, knowledgeable and competent in Confined Spaces operations and confined spaces work as well as all delegated tasks/responsibilities
  3. Be fully aware and understand the scope of work in relation to the Confined Spaces SWMS

Below are some examples of some Control Measures to be implemented when creating your own Confined Spaces Safe Work Method Statement Template:

  • Each point of entry to all confined spaces must be identified. Use legends such as -
  • DANGER CONFINED SPACE ENTRY BY PERMIT ONLY or
  • DANGER CONFINED SPACE ENTRY FOR AUTHORISED PERSONNEL ONLY
  • Allocate identification codes or numbers for individual confined spaces and display them prominently at the entry point and at any control or valve related to the confined space.
  • Use barricading or suitable signs at entry points of confined spaces during maintenance operations for preventing unauthorised entry.
  • Before commencing work, a competent person must carry out a risk assessment. If the confined spaces are similar, a generic hazard identification and risk assessment may be appropriate. However, different circumstances such as varying contaminants in similar confined spaces may warrant a separate risk assessment.
  • If there is a break in continuity of tasks because of changed conditions (from the original issue of the permit or written authority), or due to change in personnel, a re-confirmation must be made for the entry permit or the written authority.
  • The written authority or the entry permit should be based on the risk assessment, and address all the assessed risks and identified hazards.
  • A new risk assessment of the changed conditions will be required.
  • If the confined space can only be reached by climbing a ladder, provide an approved means to prevent the person from falling off the ladder.
  • Always attach a safety line to a parachute type harness on a person who is injured or unconscious and has to be removed from a confined space.
  • Before each entry into a confined space, and during work breaks, test the atmosphere for contaminants and unsafe levels of oxygen.
  • Use fall arrestors and ensure the person is wearing a safety harness.
  • For rescue purposes, a fall arrestor line is not suitable.
  • Do not allow entry before all tests are carried out and the results are positive.
  • Use a suitable purging agent to clear the atmosphere of a confined space contaminated with potentially harmful contaminants.
  • Even after purging, storage vats and process vessels may contain harmful residues. These may result in release of additional atmospheric contaminants or harmful contact during entry.
  • The atmosphere inside the confined system must be continuously monitored for unsafe oxygen levels, biological hazards, toxic gases, and/or explosive gases.
  • For purging, never use pure oxygen or any mixture containing more that 21% oxygen.
  • Wearing chemical resistant footwear, eye protection and suitable body protection is necessary.
  • Wearing suitable breathing apparatus or supplied-air respirator is necessary.
  • For reducing the temperature in confined spaces, provision must be made to supply fresh air flow from outside the confined space.
  • As compared to open spaces, confined spaces produce much higher noise levels for the same processes.
  • There is increased risk of hitting head on structures and parts within restricted work spaces.
  • Risk of foreign body entering the eyes increases because of close proximity of walls.
  • Air borne residue or concentration of dust from work processes will be higher in confined spaces.
  • Surfaces may become °∞live°± because of physical damage to power leads.
  • Welding in damp or wet conditions increases the risk of electric shock.
  • If explosive substances or gases may be present, all potential sources of ignition must be eliminated within the space or adjacent to it.
  • During entry, carry out continuous monitoring of the atmosphere within the confined space.
  • Wearing hearing protection is necessary.
  • Wearing head protection is necessary.
  • Wearing eye protection is necessary.
  • Wearing a respirator or a dust mask is necessary.
  • Use a safety switch or RCD.
  • While welding, use rubber mats.
  • Where there is a risk, sparks, open flames or smoking must be prohibited.
  • Before signing off on the written authority or the entry permit, make sure all tools, materials and equipment have been removed from the confined space.
  • Before signing off, make sure all danger tags and lockouts are removed and signed.
  • Before returning the authority or the permit to the issuing officer, make sure of reporting any previously undetected or new hazard encountered while working in the confined space.
  • Before the next or similar entry, report any suggested improvements or changes to the work process, for implementation or consideration.
  • Until all the checks have been carried out and the authority or the permit has been signed off, the confined space must not be returned to service.
  • Make sure of annotating the written entry authority or permit with undetected hazards. File the written authority or permit for future reference.

National: View the Model Codes of Practice for Excavation Work on Safe Work Australia's website here.
Victoria: Victoria's Code of Practice for Excavation Work may be viewed on Work Safe Victoria's website here.