The Difference between a JSA and SWMS


The Difference between a JSA and SWMS


The Difference between a JSA and SWMS

We recently received an enquiry about the difference between a job safety analysis (JSA) and a safe work method statement (SWMS).

The term JSA has been in common usage in Australian industry for decades. A JSA is a form of risk assessment, which details step by step how the task is to be carried out safely, as opposed to many risk assessments which only consider static conditions such as a machine or chemical storage risk assessment.

In recent years some companies have expanded this term to “JSEA” to include environmental aspects as well. However, it is not necessary to keep changing the titles as a JSA can and usually does specify every aspect of the task including; safety, quality, energy efficiency, environmental aspects, cost effectiveness and quickest and easiest way to perform the task.

There are only three (3) main components for a JSA, and these include:

  • Basic Steps (stages of the task eg start machine, load machine, clear blockage, unload etc)
  • Hazards (for each step)
  • Procedure (step-by-step instruction on how to safely carry out the task including equipment required, PPE to be worn and any special precautions).


So what is a SWMS?

The term SWMS gained common usage in Victoria following the introduction of the OHS Regulations 2007. A safe work method statement (SWMS) is prescribed for all “high risk construction work” per Reg. 5.1.9.

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An example of a ‘Safe Work Method Statement’ form

The regulations do not prescribe the format or details of a SWMS, other than in Reg. 5.1.5, which requires the SWMS to:

  1. Identify work that is high risk construction work; and
  2. State the hazards and risks to health or safety of that work; and
  3. Sufficiently describe measures to control those risks; and
  4. Describe the manner in which the risk control measures are to be implemented.

A guidance form on the Victorian WorkSafe website for a SWMS includes the same three components as for a JSA e.g. tasks or stages, hazards and control measures.

The usage of the term SWMS has increasingly been applied outside of high risk construction work and this is where some confusion has arisen.

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