Work Method Statements (WMSs) what are they, why do we need them and how are they going to make my cleaners/janitor/custodians safer. When conducting cleaning training for our cleaners one of the most important elements of the training should be Work Method Statements. So what are Work Method Statements and why do we need them?
The primary purpose of a Work Method Statement is to enable supervisors, workers and any other persons at the workplace to understand the requirements that have been established to carry out any cleaning task in a safe and healthy manner. It sets out the work activities in logical sequences and identifies hazards and describes control measures.
What Are They?
Basically a Work Method Statement (WMS) is a written guideline of how to do a job in a safe manner.
A completed Work Method Statement provides information concerning safety precautions and procedures. Any activity, no matter how simple or complex can be broken down into a series of basic steps that will permit a systematic analysis of each part of the activity for hazards and potential incidents. It should not be too detailed and should recognise a certain level of expertise and skill of its audience. It should not, however, assume knowledge of the safety precautions required.
So How Is a WMS Developed?
Usually the cleaning company will develop a list of activities that their workers are going to perform as part of their job and every task requires a Work Method Statement. What is becoming a more regular these days is that they will hire a specialised safety consultant to develop a Work Method Statement list as part of their Safety Management System. This list will be prioritized according to the severity of the risks. Starting with the tasks that involve the most potential for risk and ending with the tasks with the least risk.
A Risk Assessment of each task using a Risk Assessment Form will assist with prioritising what risk the task performed has to the cleaners.
A Work Method Statement Register will identify the Work Method Statement, its date of origin, its identification number, and the date for review.
Where a Work Method Statement does not exist a Work Method Statement Pro-forma can be completed and a new Work Method Statement will be developed from the series of steps to perform the task.
The description of the process should not be so broad that it leaves out activities with the potential to cause incidents and prevents proper identification of the hazards nor is it necessary to go into fine detail of the tasks.
The aim of a WMS is to:
- describe the activity or task to be undertaken
- identify the resources, manpower and skills associated with the task
- assess and select control measures (as appropriate)
- Systematically plan the activity so it can be completed efficiently, effectively and safely.
Work method Statements work effectively in providing cleaning training to new workers because they show in basic form the steps required to perform their job one task at a time. Work Method Statements also help with facilitating retraining or refresher training of your existing Janitors, these short descriptive task outlines can be quickly delivered to cleaning crews on site when your supervisors start the shift. Toolbox talks or Safety moments as we call them are great ways to deliver training to cleaners before, during and after their shift on how to perform a task. They can be printed out straight from the Safety Handbook and given to each of the cleaners in a group and the supervisor can give a short talk on the task, how to perform the task, and more importantly how to perform the task safely.
Copies should be distributed to all operations Supervisors and employees. Copies should be filed at each workplace and should be given to new employees undertaking the job covered by the Work Method Statement.
The Work Method Statement must be able to be easily read by those who need to know what has been planned to manage the risks and implement the control measures and ensure the work is being carried out in accordance with the Work Method Statement.
Relevant persons include:
- the supervisor of the cleaning crew
- the worker carrying out the task
- The cleaning company and all the relevant stakeholders.
What Kind of Policies Surround the governing of developing WMS’s.
A Work Method Statement will govern all jobs performed by the cleaning company that have been assessed as posing a risk to an employee. The Work Method Statement will reflect the “best current practice” for carrying out the job. All employees will undertake their work in accordance with the Work Method Statement for the task. The Cleaning Company during their induction or orientation process should adopt a policy that all employees MUST perform their jobs safely and correctly adopting the procedures in accordance with the Work Method Statement. Another policy that can be implemented is a sign off sheet that the employee signs after they have received training, this ensures that the employee is acknowledging that they have been trained and gives the employees ownership of their own training. When a work place accident occurs then the sign off sheet becomes a valuable piece of information as you now have proof of training.
When Are They Revised?
The Work Method Statement will be revised after accidents and near misses occur to identify any possible improvements to the existing procedure. Revision will occur after any modification or alteration to operation or equipment. This continuous improvement ensures that the best techniques are being developed on a regular basis and improvements in productivity become a welcome by-product of this method of training. Technology is changing the way cleaning is being conducted in a way that we have not seen in the last 25 years and with it comes new ways to perform tasks. Work Method statements should be regularly updated to take into consideration these technology advancements.