What is a Method Statement?
A method statement is a management document that outlines how a job will be carried out.
The method statement should describe, in logical steps, the specific actions that need to be taken to complete the task safely.
It is usually created by the person or group of people that are managing and/or conducting the work.
Don’t forget to download our free Method Statement template below to use with this guide.
Whilst risk assessments and method statements (RAMS) are often referred to in tandem, method statements may be used as standalone documents.
They are similar to Work Instructions (WI), Safe Working Procedures (SWP) and Safe Systems of Work (SSoW).
Why is a Method Statement useful?
Primarily, it is beneficial to help educate and inform those carrying out the work.
If created properly, the document should reflect that you have thoroughly considered the process, managed the risks, and provided suitable plant and equipment for the activity. It also satisfies the requirement to provide adequate information and training to employees.
Equally, it gives employees the opportunity to highlight any missing steps or additional resources that they may require to carry out the work.
Furthermore, a suitably detailed and descriptive method statement is a demonstration of your company’s competence to complete a specific piece of work. Risk assessments and method statements are very often required as part of pre-qualification and tendering processes across many industries, particularly construction.
If your business completes tasks with significant risk on a regular basis, it’s extremely valuable (and legally compliant) to create professional risk assessments and method statements for both your employees and your clients.
Both should be reviewed as and when significant changes to the job or technique being used should occur. The relevant stakeholders should then be sufficiently briefed on these changes.
Risk Assessment and Method Statement: Same thing?
Risk assessments and method statements should compliment each other.
The information in a method statement should be directly relevant and relatable to the findings of your risk assessment.
If the two documents exist for one activity, they should align and not conflict with one another.
For example, let’s say that you have found the use of ladders for working at height is not acceptable for a planned task via your risk assessment. You must make sure that the alternative strategy e.g. use of a mobile scaffold, is reflected in how you are proposing to carry out the work.
When you update your method statement, make sure that the corresponding risk assessment is updated to align, and vice versa.
You can learn about risk assessment in more depth in our Risk Assessment Essentials Guide.
Free Method Statement Template
When to use a Method Statement
A method statement should be used when it is necessary to outline the key steps required during a work activity or process.
It is usually used as a tool for non-standard or complex processes.
Even for simpler processes, it may be worthwhile to create a generic method statement.
The method statement allows you to outline the critical elements of the work process, ensuring that those involved can be informed on the requirements for the job. This helps to ensure the work can be carried out safely.
Who should write a Method Statement?
Anyone can be given responsibility to write a method statement. In construction, if you are a sub-contractor, you may be responsible for creating your own method statement.
If your company is managing a project with multiple contractors (i.e. Prinicipal or Main Contractor), then you may be primarily responsible for the co-ordination and communication of the method statements.
You may be thinking that you don’t know anything about the task. That’s OK, providing that you get hold of the right people to help you.
In other words, you’ll want to find those with the best understanding and competence around the task to help with both the risk assessments and method statements.
How to write a Method Statement
It is important that you keep your method statement as concise and simple as possible.
In certain cases, you may wish to also include diagrams or sketches if they would be useful for supervisors or operators to follow.
As your method statement is likely to be viewed by clients as well as workers, you should start your document with important general information as an introduction to the project.
Depending on the project, the method statement document may be a comprehensive work plan for your activity. Here’s an example of the information that may be contained in a method statement;
Section A: Basic Information
This can vary to what is appropriate to your business, but may include:
- Company Details
- The name of the project and its reference.
- A brief description of the task.
- Where the work is taking place.
- Estimated start and finish times for the activity (Dates).
- Names of relevant team members & contact details
Section B: Health & Safety Arrangements
Having outlined the basics, you can then include (where applicable):
- First aid procedures, including the qualified first aider/s on site
- Work permits such as the Permit to Work and any other legal requirements
- Minimum competence required for skilled operators e.g. plant operators
- Staff or site-specific training that may be required
- Key equipment that will be needed, e.g. telehandler, mobile crane, piling rig etc.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) needed (mandatory minimum and task-specific)
- Waste management arrangements
Part C: Sequence of Work / How the Task will be Carried Out
This section of the method statement should be the most thorough and detailed (but simple even for people to understand it).