Job Safety Analysis Made Simple: The Big Picture

Job Hazard Analysis Made Simple: The Big PictureI’m always a bit taken aback by the number of industrial companies I come across in my client engagements that, although they’ve been around for a while, still have no formal hazard assessment policy or procedure for new or modified jobs they may be doing.  The reasons vary and range from “no time to do it,” to “overly complex forms,” to “didn’t really understand what was being asked,” to (my personal favorite) “Do you want me to DO my job, or do you want me to WRITE about it?!” [content_protector password=”jsa-big” identifier=”jsa-big”]

A couple years ago I was asked to present a keynote address for the annual safety conference of a very large food manufacturing company.  What they wanted was a primer in hazard assessment that operations could take back to the plant and use.

Now, most if the keynote addresses I’m asked to do are slanted toward the motivational side (though I always make a point of working in practical tools they can use once the session is over).  But this particular client was adamant about tooling its workers in the plant.  In fact, after I talked them through the session highlights I had planned to address, their #1 concern and question was, “Will they know how to do a hazard assessment at the end of the address?”

They were more interested in learning and development than in the typical motivation speech.  Kudos to them!

In any case (as I hope they discovered), those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Here is the first in a series of article/videos on basic principles for conducting a hazard analysis.  Fair warning: this will be remedial to many of you who have been in the industry for a while — Hence the “For Dummies” title in the associated video!  If you know this stuff already, just view this as a suggested way of presenting it to others.  If you aren’t familiar with these concepts, then as I mentioned earlier, you are in good company — there are more of you than you might think!

Job Safety Analysis: An Overview

There are three main steps to a job safety analysis.  And by the way, there are a lot of a.k.a.s for a Job Safety Analysis (or JSA), including Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and Risk Assessment.  We’re going to call it a JSA for our purposes here.10 Things You Absolutely MUST KNOW About Reinforcing Your Safety Culture By Building EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

The three main steps are …

1. Identify the steps of the job

2. Identify the hazards of each step

3. Identify how to control those hazards

Let’s start with the first step.  It’s important here to focus on the big (or main) steps (or phases) of the job.  Don’t get bogged down into too much minutia.  This should not include every turn of the wrench.  But if there is a small step that has a safety critical component, be sure to include it!

Take a forklift operation as an example.  The first step of that job is not jumping in the seat and driving.  The first step should probably be in the form of a pre-operation inspection — checking the lights, the horn, the mirrors, the fluids, the functionality of the forks, etc.  Note that there are many sub steps embedded in that first step.  It’s sufficient to include here only the main step (“pre-operation inspection).

Once we’ve identified the main steps/phases of the job, we can then move on to the second step: identifying the hazards.  The focus here should be on hazards that are specific to each step.  For instance, what hazards could pop up when inspecting the fork truck? What additional hazards could arise when driving the fork truck? When loading or unloading pallets, etc.?  Note that we’ve moved from the general in the first step to specific in the second step.

fctc-online-bannerThe final step is to look over the hazards we identified and to determine the severity level of those hazards as well as mitigation actions or other controls we plan to apply.  Not all hazards are equal.  In fact some hazards are actually livable, and we won’t have to act on them at all.  We’ll call these “acceptable risks.”

If you think about it, there are hazards present when walking through a doorway; but we’re probably not going to spend a lot of time thinking through how we’ll mitigate those hazards.  Focus instead on those hazards that have both (1) a high consequence or impact if it happens, and (2) a high likelihood of occurrence.

Once we’ve arrived at our short list of hazards, we’ll need to think through ways to mitigate them.  There are at least three categories of hazard control:

1. Engineering Controls: This is the preferred category. if we can engineer the hazard out of existence, then we’ll never have to deal with it again.  For instance, placing a guard plate over a chain drive on a unit can prevent an injury when someone accidentally reaches out their hand to steady themselves if they trip or slip on something near the unit.

2. Administrative Controls: Even with a guard plate securely in place, an employee might still get into trouble with that chain drive if he decides to reach around the guard plate (or remove it) to clear a jam.  So, in addition to the engineered control we’ll also need a safe work procedure and a safety policy that is supported by training and effective safety communication around that activity.

3. Personal Protection Controls: The final category (and the last line of defense for an employee) is the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).  This includes anything that would mitigate the damage if something bad were to happen: hardhat, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, gloves, etc.

Well, that’s just the overview.  In our next edition we’ll do a deeper dive into the first step of a JSA.  But that’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Be sure to view the associated video below to learn more about this overview of a JSA. Until next time.



About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.