To identify a job's hazards, break it down!

Date Posted: 03/04/2019
Job Hazard Analysis Inspection

The Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), or as some call it, Job Safety Analysis (JSA), is a unique process for hazard identification and control. In fact, it's one of the better ways to identify hazards, implement controls, and get workers involved.

What is a Job Hazard Analysis?

A JHA follows a three-step process:

  1. Break down the "job" into its smaller components
  2. Identify hazards with each component
  3. Implement controls to reduce/eliminate the hazard

The last two steps — identifying hazards and implementing controls — are similar to any type of hazard identification process. It's the first step that really makes the JSA process unique: breaking the job down into its smaller components.

But, what does that mean?

First, let's define "job," which is a source of much confusion surrounding JHAs. In JHA world, "job" means a specific task, such as chocking a trailer, or changing a lightbulb (as opposed to warehouse worker or forklift operator).

So, be aware that you'll have a slew of "jobs" that could use a JHA because every worker performs numerous "jobs" throughout the day. Some jobs might be done several times per day, while others might be done only once or twice per month.

Which comes first?

That brings up another source of confusion around the JHA process. How do you prioritize?

Certainly, any jobs where there have been injuries or near misses need to be analyzed. In addition, jobs or tasks for which you have received complaints of hazards or discomfort are good candidates (e.g., "My shoulder gets sore after doing this task." Or "It's hard to do this task with our gloves on." Also, any job that is inherently dangerous, for example those that require a permit to perform, should be subjected to a JHA.

Ultimately, the "what" and the "how" are left up to each employer to determine, as OSHA does not specifically require a JHA. Note: OSHA does require a PPE Hazard Assessment, but that typically does not involve breaking the job down into smaller components.

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