Method statements are widely used in construction as a means of controlling specific health and safety risks that have been identified (perhaps following the preparation of a risk assessment) such as; lifting operations, demolition or dismantling, working at height (such as work on roofs), installing equipment, and the use of plant.
A method statement helps manage the work and and ensures that the necessary precautions have been communicated to those involved.
The process of preparing a written method statement provides evidence that:
- Significant health and safety risks have been identified.
- Co-operation of workers has been ensured.
- Safe, co-ordinated systems of work have been put in place.
- Workers have been involved in the process.
Like risk assessments, method statements are not a requirement of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, however they are identified by the Health and Safety Executive as one way of satisfying the requirements of the regulations and as an effective means of assessing risks, managing risks, collecting workers’ views and briefing workers. The fact that method statements are not a requirement of the CDM Regulations is evidence of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) intention that implementation of the requirements of the CDM Regulations should not be a paper exercise, where the filling out of a standard template is sufficient, but that it should be an integral and fundamental part of the construction process.
It is worth noting that the exception to the above a demand in CDM Regulations 5 and 6 that there is a written plan of work for higher risk activities (even where a project is not notifiable) and with a list of specific high risk activities such as demolition, structural alterations and excavations that are deep, in unstable or contaminated ground.
At the outset of a project the format in which the method statements are reviewed and used should be set out, this is best done within the Project Execution Plan (or PEP), ensuring not only that the Method Statement produced by a competent person, but that it is peer-reviewed as part of the QA system prior to it's use.
Where they are prepared, method statements need be no longer than is necessary for them to be effective. They are for the benefit of those carrying out the work and so should be clear, should not be overcomplicated and should be illustrated where necessary.
Method statements should be written by a competent person who is familiar with the process being described and may need to be agreed between the client, principal contractor and contractor. The HSE suggests that those preparing method statements should consider:
- Is there a safer way of doing this task?
- Will workers actually implement the controls as planned?
- Do these controls make the job difficult or inconvenient?
- Are there small changes that will improve the intended method?
- How will these controls work in adverse conditions, e.g. weather?
- Will workers require additional briefing or instructions?
The contents of a method statement will vary with the work process being described however, they may contain:
- Details of the organisation in control of the activity.
- Details of the individual responsible for the activity.
- A description of the activity.
- A description of how the work will be managed.
- The location of the activity, its boundaries, means of access and how it is segregated from other activities.
- Plant and equipment required.
- The procedure for changing the proposed method of work if necessary.
- A step by step description of the activities to be undertaken.
- Precautions necessary to protect workers, and other people that could be affected, including personal protective equipment and ventilation requirements.
- Training procedures.
- The need for specially-trained operators for certain activities.
- Emergency procedures, including the location of emergency equipment.
- The handling and storage of materials and pollution prevention procedures.
- Temporary works designs.
- The method for safeguarding existing structures.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Deleterious materials.
- Health and safety.
- Principal contractor.
- Project execution plan.
- Risk assessment.
- Temporary works.