Scaffolding Safe Work Method Statement

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

Scaffolding Safe Work Method Statement

Scaffolding Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

Whether you need to get on site to start work, looking to create a safe work environment or pitching that next Government Tender, the Scaffolding Safe Work Method Statement is easy to customise, easy to use and easily integrates into your current Safety Management System (if you have one! If not, we need to talk, seriously. Don't take that sort of risk - we can help).

Look, we understand business can be hard enough as it is without all the red tape, often written in language only a martian would understand. That's why every Safe Work Method Statement Template is written in an easy to understand format, while at the same time being some of the highest quality in the industry. Our SWMS documents get you on site, save you loads of time and are easy to use. This way, you can get on with doing what you do best.


The Scaffolding 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. General precautions
  8. Erection- fixed
  9. Erection- mobile
  10. Access
  11. Working platforms
  12. Working on scaffolds
  13. Relocation of mobile scaffolds
  14. On completion

The Scaffolding Safe Work Method Statement Includes


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

Your Scaffolding 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.

Scaffolding 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 Scaffolding 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 scaffolding project as needed, making sure that your Scaffolding SWMS Template addresses any site specific risks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. All persons involved in the scaffolding work are advised that a revision has been made and how they can access the revised Scaffolding 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 Scaffolding SWMS; and,
  3. Workers that will be involved in the scaffolding work are provided with the relevant information and instruction that will assist them to understand and implement the revised Scaffolding SWMS.

When preparing your Scaffolding 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 Scaffolding.

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

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

Assessment of Site Conditions

Thoroughly assess the work site/area conditions when scaffolding and ensure that:

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

Scaffolding Training and Worker Qualifications 

Ensure all workers have the appropriate licenses in conducting Scaffolding as well as any qualifications that may be required for various scaffolding 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 Scaffolding SWMS including all safety and emergency procedures.
  2. Be qualified, knowledgeable and competent in Scaffolding operations and scaffolding work as well as all delegated tasks/responsibilities
  3. Be fully aware and understand the scope of work in relation to the Scaffolding SWMS

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

  • In general, component scaffolds have a minimum width of 1.2m, and a maximum width of 3.0 m.
  • No freestanding scaffold must exceed a height of 3 times the minimum base dimension. Above this height, use ties or outriggers.
  • When erecting a scaffold, always follow the assembly instructions from the manufacturer.
  • Allow only competent persons to erect the scaffolding.
  • Only components designed for and provided for must be used for the type of scaffolds.
  • Prevent unauthorised access to unattended scaffolds by using appropriate warning signs.
  • Before any person can climb on to or work from the scaffold, always check the stability of the completed scaffold.
  • Make sure all the components are properly fitted together.
  • Make sure that all the mating surfaces are undamaged and clean.
  • Never mix the components.
  • To prevent unauthorised access, use barrier tapes, etc.
  • Never climb on to or work from an unstable scaffold.
  • Make sure all footings are firm and compacted, stable and well drained.
  • If the surface is soft, use timber sole boards and baseplates under the feet.
  • Make sure that all uprights are vertical by using levelling screws. All feet must be in firm contact with the surface on which it is erected.
  • For ensuring stability, fit plan and vertical bracing on the scaffold.
  • For level footing, dig into slopes.
  • Never use metal plates under the feet.
  • Make sure that the collar-locking device is properly engaged on the base frame.
  • Use mobile scaffolds only on stable, level and firm surfaces.
  • Make sure that all wheels can turn smoothly and all the locks are operable.
  • Make sure that all uprights are vertical by using levelling screws. All wheels must have full contact with the surface on which it is erected.
  • For ensuring stability, fit plan and vertical bracing on the scaffold.
  • Never use mobile scaffolds on a slope greater than 7degrees.
  • Make sure all the wheels have locks fitted.
  • Make sure all the wheels are locked when erecting the scaffold.
  • To access the working platform, fit access ladders inside the scaffold assembly.
  • Hook the ladder over the end frame, brace it to a lower end frame and let it extend at least 0.9 m above the working platform.
  • Avoid climbing on the scaffold frame.
  • Do not attempt to climb up the outside of the scaffold.
  • Use a working platform of a captive type that locks onto the frame.
  • The surface of a working platform must always be of non-slip finish.
  • Do not load the platform more that the marked SWL.
  • Provide full edge protection comprising handrail, mid rail and toe board or in fil panel and a handrail for each working platform and access platform.
  • To calculate the load on the platform, include the weight of all persons, tools, materials and equipment.
  • Keep the top rail between 0.9 m and 1.1 m above the working surface.
  • Face the ladder when climbing, keep both hands-on stiles and climb slowly.
  • Use a rope to raise equipment, material and tools to the working platform.
  • Always keep the entire body within the confines of the guardrails. Never reach out beyond arm’s length from the scaffold.
  • When working of the platform of a scaffold, never use any type of ladder.
  • Never attach hoisting equipment to a scaffold unless the manufacturer or supplier has explicitly indicated that it is safe to do so.
  • Wearing protective footwear is advised if the handled material or equipment is likely to cause foot injury should it fall.
  • If practicable, and if there is a risk of falling objects, provide an exclusion zone around the scaffold.
  • If there is a risk of being struck by falling objects, all persons working near the scaffold must wear head protection.
  • Be careful when handling metal objects near electric wiring.
  • Be careful when climbing and descending ladders.
  • While climbing or descending ladders, never carry objects in hand.
  • Work only from a working platform.
  • Be careful when raising tools, materials and equipment to the working platform.
  • Wearing foot protection is necessary.
  • In case exclusion zone cannot be provided, erect a containment screen around the scaffold.
  • Wearing head protection is necessary.
  • Keep away from electrical hazards.
  • Before any person can climb on to the scaffold or works from it, make sure that scaffold wheels are locked.
  • Do not move a scaffold when any person is still on it.
  • Before moving the mobile scaffold, check the path of travel for any obstructions, holds, electric wires and leans, etc.
  • Check for stability before the scaffold is re-used after relocating. Relock all the wheels and adjust the levelling screws if necessary.
  • Before moving, remove all loose items.
  • Avoid tipping over the scaffolding while moving it; move it carefully.

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.