When’s the Last Time Your Facility Did a Job Hazard Analysis?

December 18, 2014 by


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.

Work Hazards -vs- Risks, What’s the Difference?

December 16, 2014 by


Most often used interchangeably, what really makes the difference when it comes to planning for hazards and risks. Are they really that much different? And if so, what should be the approach for protecting your workforce against them both.

The truth is hazards and risks are two different aspects of the workplace that work in concert to produce a harmful injury. The difference between the two lies at the root of their meanings. A hazard is the situation in the workplace that has the potential to harm the health and safety of a worker or damage equipment, such as a chemical ,an unguarded blade, or flying debris. Where as a risk is the chance or probability that a person will be harmed if exposed to a hazard.

There are many different types of hazards such as:

  • Biological – bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans, etc.,
  • Chemical – depends on the physical, chemical and toxic properties of the chemical.
  • Ergonomic – repetitive movements, improper set up of workstation, etc.,
  • Physical – radiation, magnetic fields, pressure extremes (high pressure or vacuum), noise, etc,
  • Psychosocial – stress, violence, etc.,
  • Safety – slipping/tripping hazards, inappropriate machine guarding, equipment malfunctions or breakdowns

It is suggested you perform a risk assessment when trying to measure out the risk or likelihood of those hazards becoming real problems. What is a risk assessment? A Risk assessment is the process where you:

  • Identify hazards around your workplace that pose threats to your environment and facility
  • Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with each individual hazard
  • Determine appropriate ways to eliminate or control each hazard based on the needs of your facility and the hierarchy of controls most available to your work environment.

When discovering and implementing change throughout your workplace, be sure to include your employees, they may be able to provide additional insight on procedures unknown to your safety manager. Their input is important and will help in creating a safer workplace.


5 Dangers of an Unhealthy Workplace

December 11, 2014 by


When you think of things that make up a healthy workplace what are the first ideas that come to mind? Is it that you are provided with the proper PPE and that you are properly trained in the aspects of your job. Those are the obvious non-negotiables that should never be compromised but there are other behavioral and health related workplace habits that could be hurting your workers’ well being.

Chronic High Stress – Working in an intense deadline driven job leaves little time to stop and gather yourself throughout the day. However working in this kind of high stress environment on an ongoing basis can lead to everything from musculoskeletal problems, gastrointestinal upsets, anxiety and depression, to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Low Morale – When there is little interaction and camaraderie between fellow workers it almost feels like there is a black cloud hanging over your facility. This leads to a negative mood which can affect everyone. When there is a bad vibe at work it is hard not to take that home and spread it into other parts of your life which could affect relationships you have in your personal life.

Unrealistic Expectations – If you are being put in a situation that you feel sets you up to fail, it is easy to burn out or even worse stop caring all together. These kinds of unrealistic expectations can be a detriment to your work ethic and possibly put you in danger of losing your job.

Immature Leadership – A toxic workplace can be fueled by a dysfunctional leader. One who is unreasonable and instills a sense of fear and distance makes it feel as though workers have no say and are interchangeable. This will do the opposite of driving results and instead will alienate your workforce and lead to high turnover rates and lower productivity.

Poor Communication – If workers aren’t getting much feedback on their performance, or only negative feedback it doesn’t provide them much motivation to do better. If they are being left out of the loop on their performance or changes that will directly affect them, and then are blamed for mistakes that could have been avoided with clear communication it doesn’t provide a chance to improve or do better.

Realizing the clear negative implications of having a low workplace moral centered around stress and fear tactics and their long lasting serious health ramifications, it should always be a priority to foster good worker relations and a positive work environment. Sometimes unhealthy work habits aren’t so easy to point out. Keep open lines of communication so workers always feel comfortable voicing their concerns. Schedule regular meetings or check in with workers individually to evaluate your current processes to see what is working and what could be better. Allow workers to take short breaks if a day has been particularly stressful. Making sure you workers are being taken care of will ultimately make them want to worker harder for the business and drive production in the right direction.

Aging Workers: Handling the Skills Gap at Your Facility

December 8, 2014 by


1 in every 5 American workers will be over 65 by 2020, a wave of retirement in the manufacturing sector could plague US companies with skill shortages and high costs of replacing veteran employees. Has your workplace begun preparing for a less experienced work force?

Although perhaps a bit cliché, the saying with age comes wisdom often rings true. As your workforce ages, your workers bring an added experience for problem solving situations unique to your specific workplace, in addition to technical knowledge and perhaps even name recognition within your field that is invaluable and irreplaceable. According to NIOSH, older workers tend to experience fewer workplace injuries than their younger colleagues and drive productivity.

So I ask again, are you doing all you can to try and retain the wealth of information within your business in some capacity as the years continue to pass?

Many corporations have begun to recognize this unavoidable future and have started implementing programs and initiatives to maintain their most valuable assets. For example sometimes making small inexpensive ergonomic changes like BMW has begun doing is all it takes, wooden assembly-line floors, custom shoes and easier-to-read computer screens. Companies like Scripps Healthcare and WellStar Health Systems have tried a different tactic offering phased retirement plans, allowing employees to flex their retirement, working part-time while still drawing a full salary and benefits. Other businesses like Michelin and HPEV have adapted current rules or created new ones to keep retired workers in consulting or strategic advisory board positions. Retaining worker expertise to further their companies in new and existing markets.

Only you know the status of your workplace and the changes needed, but the numbers don’t lie. The workforce is changing, and with change comes a need for re-evaluation to ensure that your workplace is prepared . Drastic changes aren’t always necessary but clear strategic and decisive changes will help your workplace adapt to what lies ahead. As the year comes to a close perhaps the time is now to start planning for the future of your employees and your business.

Creating SMART Safety Goals in the New Year

December 4, 2014 by


The end of the year is upon us and as we evaluate our workplaces across the country it is important to make note of the many safety accomplishments that have happened throughout the year while setting new safety resolutions for 2015, and taking workplace safety initiatives to the next level.   Many may have heard of SMART Goals before but have you been applying them in your workplace. They simply break down to making your goals Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific: While it is good to have overarching goals it is difficult to find individual responsibilities on how to achieve these milestones if they are too high level. Break them down into actionable pieces that help to get your whole workplace involved and show the collective strength of a unified workplace working toward a zero injury environment.

Measurable: Have answers as to how you will meet these objectives in the timeframe given. Do you have productivity amounts and percentages attached to your goals? Are there certain costs and budgeting concerns that need to be addressed in order to help you achieve them? Set deadlines and create frequent check ins to track your progress and keep your goals on track.

Actionable: Are your goals within reach. Do you have the experience, knowledge, resources and capabilities on hand to achieve them?

Realistic: Be able to answer the questions “Should this be done?” “Why should this be done?”and “What will be the impact if this is done?” Create a well researched and strategic argument for why your goals are important and should be addressed above other areas in the workplace.

Timely: Set deadlines for your goals, leaving a project open ended makes it easy for it to get pushed for later when a more time sensitive issue arises. Once deadlines have been established stay firm on them. Schedule milestone check ups to make sure you are still in line with the end goal, and re-evaluate if necessary to ensure that your end result will meet expectations.

Having a clear roadmap for your goals in the new year will not only help upper management visualize what success will look like but will also help your workers get on board and know their responsibilities within your plan. Having organization among everyone within your facility and working toward the same end result will allow for feedback on a consistent basis and guarantee your plans success long term.


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