Workers are injured and killed in workplaces across the country every day. The cornerstone of accident and injury prevention is the job hazard analysis. OSHA provides an overview of the process:
What Is a Hazard?
A hazard is the potential for harm. In practical terms, a hazard is often associated with a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, can result in an injury or illness. Identifying hazards and eliminating or controlling them as early as possible will help prevent injuries and illnesses.
What Is a Job Hazard Analysis?
A job hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment. Ideally, after you identify uncontrolled hazards, you will take steps to eliminate or reduce them.
What Is the Value of a Job Hazard Analysis?
Supervisors can use the findings of a job hazard analysis to eliminate and prevent hazards in their workplaces. This is likely to result in fewer worker injuries and illnesses; safer, more effective work methods; reduced workers’ compensation costs; and increased worker productivity. The analysis can also be a valuable tool for training new employees in the steps required to perform their jobs safely. For a job hazard analysis to be effective, management must demonstrate its commitment to safety and health, and follow through to correct any uncontrolled hazards. Otherwise, management will lose credibility and employees may hesitate to go to management when dangerous conditions threaten them.
What Jobs Are Appropriate for a Hazard Analysis?
Priority should go to the following types of jobs:
- Jobs with the highest injury or illness rates
- Jobs with the potential to cause severe or disabling injuries or illnesses, even if there is no history of previous accidents
- Jobs in which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury
- Jobs that are new to your operation or have undergone changes in processes and procedures
- Jobs complex enough to require written instructions
To conduct a job hazard analysis, follow these five steps:
Involve your employees. It is very important to involve your employees in the 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 safety and health program.
Review your accident history. Review the following with your employees: your work site’s history of accidents and occupational illnesses that needed treatment; losses that required repair or replacement; and any “near-misses” — events in which an accident or loss did not occur, but could have. These events are indicators that the existing hazard controls (if any) may not be adequate and may deserve more scrutiny.
Conduct a preliminary job review. Discuss with your employees the hazards that they know exist in their current work and surroundings. Brainstorm ideas on how to eliminate or control those hazards. If any hazards exist that pose an immediate danger to an employee’s life or health, take immediate action to protect the worker. Any problems that can be corrected easily should be corrected as soon as possible. Do not wait to complete your job hazard analysis. This will demonstrate your commitment to safety and health and enable you to focus on the hazards and jobs that need more study because of their complexity.
List, rank and set priorities for hazardous jobs. List jobs with hazards that present unacceptable risks based on those most likely to occur and with the most severe consequences. These jobs should be your first priority for analysis
Outline tasks. Nearly every job can be broken down into 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. Later, review the job steps with the employee to make sure you have not omitted anything. Include the employee in all phases of the analysis — from reviewing the job steps and procedures to discussing hazards and solutions. After reviewing the list of hazards with your employees, consider what control methods would eliminate or reduce the hazards. The most effective controls are engineering controls that physically change a machine or work environment to prevent employee exposure to the hazard. The less likely a hazard control can be circumvented, the better. If this is not feasible, administrative controls may be appropriate. Discuss your recommendations with all employees who perform a specific job. If you plan to introduce new job procedures, be sure workers understand what they are required to do.