Method statement for construction
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 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.
- Permit to work.
- Principal contractor.
- Project execution plan.
- Reporting accidents and injuries on construction sites.
- Risk assessment.
- Temporary works.
 External references
Featured articles and news
BRE competition offers up to £50,000 to support the development of solutions to accurately and quickly measure heat loss from solid walls.
So far we've identified more than 60 reports in the last 80 years about how the construction industry should be improved. Let us know if we've missed any.
The RIBA has published 'Ten principles for procuring better outcomes' in response to the new Public Contracts Regulations.
CIRIA’s susdrain project has published an infographic giving an overview of the drivers and benefits of sustainable urban drainage systems.
4 entries for the Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge competition have been invited to take part in the next stage.
Rebekah Paczek takes a wry look at the budget and what it means for property and construction.
Quantic UK infographic provides useful information for those considering going it alone.
For more news, go to the home page.