Job Hazard Analysis - Your Path to Safer Jobs
 Nov. 28, 2012

The best way to ensure safe work procedures address job hazards is to conduct a job hazard analysis before an accident occurs.

Manufacturers constantly inspect tools and machines to ensure they are working properly. This helps maintain productivity and safety. A similar productivity and safety evaluation is a job hazard analysis. A job hazard analysis is an uncomplicated but powerful analytical tool that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards. These hazards if unchecked will ultimately lead to injuries to your employees.

Injuries most often arise from circumstances growing out of or affecting the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and equipment, and the work environment. This relationship has many moving parts and once you've identified job hazards within the relationship, you can initiate measures to eliminate or reduce their affects.

Although job hazard analysis is a relatively easy practice, it takes time. To be useful, you have to carefully analyze hazards for each job category and for each step in each job. You also need to dig into past performance, most notably accidents and set your priorities to address jobs:

  • With the highest injury or illness rates
  • With the potential to cause severely disabling injuries
  • or illness, even if there is no history of previous accidents
  • In which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury
  • Where one workers' actions could result in injury to another worker
  • That are new to your operation or have undergone changes in processes and procedures
  • That are complex enough to require written instructions

Create a Process

Job hazard analysis should not be random or conducted only when you have some free time. It should be part of your Injury & Illness Prevention Program. Use employees as resources, include them in all phases of the job hazard analysis, from reviewing the job steps and procedures to dis- cussing uncontrolled hazards and identifying solutions. Sometimes, in conducting a job hazard analysis, it may be helpful to photograph or video the worker performing the job. These visual records can be handy references when doing a more detailed analysis of the work.

Effective job hazard analysis programs will include at least the following characteristics:

    1. Involve employees in all phases.It's very important to involve your employees in the job hazard analysis process. They have a unique understanding of the job, and this knowledge is invaluable for finding hazards. Involving employees will help minimize oversights, ensure a quality analysis, and get workers to buy in to the solutions because they will share ownership in their Injury & Illness Prevention Program.

    2. Review accident history. Review your workplace's history of accidents and occupational illnesses, accident damage that required equipment repair or replacement, and any near misses. These are indicators that existing hazard controls may not be adequate and deserve more scrutiny.

    3. Conduct a preliminary job review. Discuss with your employees the hazards they know exist in their current work and surroundings. Brainstorm with them for ideas to eliminate or control those hazards. Of course, if any hazards exist that pose an immediate danger to an employee's life or health, take immediate action to protect the worker.

    4. List, rank, and set priorities. Rank jobs based on hazards. Those that present unacceptable risks are always at the top. Next, create a hazard to job hierarchy. This is based on jobs with hazards that potentially could produce severe losses. These jobs should always be your first priority for analysis.

    5. Outlinestepsortasks.Nearlyeveryjobcanbebrokendowninto job tasks or steps. When beginning a job hazard analysis, watch the employee perform the job and list each step as the worker takes it. Be sure to record enough information to describe each job action without getting overly detailed. Avoid making the breakdown of steps so detailed that it becomes unnecessarily long or so broad that it does not include basic steps. Review the job steps with the employee to make sure you haven't omitted something. Point out that you are evaluating the job itself, not the employee's job performance.

    6. Identify hazards. List the hazards. This will be a combination of the hazards you identified in Step 3 and any additional hazards you discovered when observing the employee. Again, you are associating hazards with the tasks involved in the job.

The key is to avoid accidents whenever possible and secondarily, reduce the effects of losses. Job hazard analysis is a critical step in achieving those objectives. For more information on this or other safety related topics contact CMTA at wcgroup@cmta.net.

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