There are diverse safety measures available to protect workers, such as a JSA (job safety analysis) and an SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement). The usage of these two documents is sometimes confused. Let’s look at risk and the application of the documents.
Construction Workers Job Safety Analysis Survey
In 2012 the construction industry was formally described as a priority industry for work health and safety by the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. The Safe Work Australia (SWA) organisation has been assisting employers and employees since 2008 to be compliant and safe.
SWA conducted a survey of construction workers and their employers. Their findings confirmed that construction workers experience a substantially higher proportion of:
- work-related cuts,
- open wounds and
- falls from height
as compared to employees in other labour-using industries.
The most common workplace disease-causing hazards were:
- airborne hazards,
- vibration and
In the majority, workers agreed that safety practices were used in their workplace. However, only forty percent of employers said they reviewed incident reports and statistics.
Shockingly, nearly thirty-five percent of construction workers responded that their workplace conditions hindered safe work practices, whereas significantly fewer employers stated this. Workers also reported that they accept a greater risk if the work schedule is tight, whereas employers felt that deadlines did not change safety habits.
What Is The Difference Between A JSA And A SWMS?
In short, a JSA is a form of risk assessment for general construction tasks. It lays out a task in a step-by-step process that leads to safe work behaviour.
Employers are generally required by law to show their care and training of workers, thereby ensuring workers are competent. There is no specific legal requirement for a JSA. However, the outcome achieved helps an employer show their care of the health and safety of their workers.
A JSA will usually have three elements:
- Tasks Template – A step-by-step list of the basic activities of the task at a granular level
- Hazards Template – A list of potential hazards per step.
- Control Measures Template – Step-by-step instruction on how to carry out the task within the risk parameters.
A JSA will examine a job from A – Z, including risk presented to the individual and the company.
The use of a SWMS is specifically for High-Risk Construction Work (HRCW). It is referred to under safety regulations in Australia and relates to 19 different construction activities with the potential for serious harm, e.g. trenching and working at height.
Companies have started using the term SWMS outside of HRCW, and this is where confusion has arisen.
Your business may give your safety documents any name you like as long as the content is compliant with legislation. The SWMS is required by law for HRCW.
In short, JSA is part of job analysis literature and methods that get experienced workers on the same safety and efficiency procedures page. A JSA treats safety as a skill and aims to balance safety with production.
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