What is a Method Statement?

method statement

Controlling the risks involved in construction work requires careful planning and management. And method statements are a key part of doing exactly that. Method statements provide detailed step-by-step information on safely completing hazardous construction tasks. They are crucial health and safety documents that must be prepared carefully and precisely.

But it’s easy to be confused by the terminology. Different names are also used, like a safety statement, a plan of work, or a work method statement. There are also risk assessment method statements (RAMS), which combine a method statement and a risk assessment.

We’ve compiled this quick guide to clear up the confusion. Keep reading to learn the purpose of a method statement, the difference between a method statement and a risk assessment, and how to write a method statement.

What Is the Purpose of a Method Statement?

We’ve all had to read instructions to complete a task or build something. Think of the last time you put together a piece of flat-pack furniture. Without the instructions, you’d have been lost. Imagine putting together the same furniture, but instead of struggling with Allen keys in your living room, you’re on top of a construction building in a strong wind. Those instructions will need to be very clear about what you must do and the best way to do it if you’re going to avoid an injury.

A method statement is simply a set of instructions outlining how to complete a hazardous construction task safely. They’re used by the people performing the work and sometimes provided to clients during the tender process. Everyone involved in carrying out the project must read and understand it.

The purpose of a method statement is to provide a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to complete a construction task safely. So, it must involve more than a furniture instruction manual. It must describe all the potential hazards workers may encounter and detail the required precautions. Cute pictures and infographics just won’t do the job.

What’s the Difference Between a Method Statement and a Risk Assessment?

Sometimes, people get confused between a method statement and a risk assessment. The fact that there are risk assessment method statements (RAMS) doesn’t help.

There is quite a difference between a method statement and a risk assessment.

The first thing to be aware of is that a risk assessment is a legal requirement. Every construction job needs an RA before any work can begin.

  • A risk assessment identifies potential health hazards and details the control measures that must be taken to eliminate or mitigate the associated risks
  • A method statement details how, why and when the control measures are implemented

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Do You Have to Complete Both?

Risk assessments are required for all activities, while a method statement is needed only for high-risk tasks. A risk assessment is written first to develop a method statement. Usually, a construction project will require more risk assessments (RAs) than method statements.

A RAMS document contains both a risk assessment and a method statement. These documents complement each other and form a part of a complete set of Safe System of Work (SSOW) procedures.

When Should You Write a Method Statement?

Some construction work is especially hazardous – demolition activities, for example. A method statement should be prepared for any construction activity with a high likelihood of someone being harmed. Suppose the RA shows that a particular risk cannot be eliminated. In that case, a method statement should be written and a RAMS document should be compiled.

purpose of method statement

Although it’s not technically a legal requirement, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that completing a method statement is an excellent way to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation and regulations. The HSE also considers them a health and safety best practice.

How to Create a Method Statement

Compiling the document should be done using a considered and systematic process. Using a pre-existing template or creating a bespoke one may be helpful. While there’s no set format, it will generally contain three sections:

  1. Basic information
  2. Detailed information
  3. Details of all risks and control measures

Basic Information

This section should contain basic information on the construction project itself:

  • The name of the project
  • Contact details for the company or companies involved
  • A summary of the work to be completed
  • The address of the work site
  • Start and completion dates for the project
  • The issue date and the unique document number
  • Contact details for health and safety duty holders

Detailed Information

The following section should provide further information, including:

  • What work has to be done
  • The roles and responsibilities of those involved in the task
  • The tools and equipment that are to be used
  • Information on any required permits, such as a Permit to Work
  • Details on any training that has been provided to staff

Identified Risks and Control Measures

The last section should contain the most detail on the tasks and associated risks. You should include:

  • Information on all identified hazards
  • Details on control measures in place to eliminate or mitigate risks
  • Step-by-step instructions on how the work is to be carried out – including set up, inspection and waste disposal procedures
  • Details of first aid and emergency procedures
  • Information on the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The above is a general guide. This section must be much more involved and detailed for more advanced and complex work. In these types of cases, many construction companies use the services of professional health and safety advisors to compile the document.

Staying Safe on Construction Sites

When it comes to construction work, health and safety matters are no joke. Of the 135 workers killed in the UK during the 2022 to 2023 period, some 45 were involved in the construction industry, according to the HSE. In the same period, around 53,000 construction workers suffered serious but non-fatal injuries.

Our Construction Training Courses will teach you how to protect your team and increase the safety aspects of any construction project.

These online courses cover everything from risk assessments to working in confined spaces, working at a height and hot works training.

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