Job safety analysis (JSA)—also known as “job hazard analysis” and “job hazard breakdown”—is an essential tool for any business committed to a vigorous risk management program. It provides a breakdown of each step of a job, identifies the potential hazards workers may encounter, recommends the safest way to do the job, and offers guidance on next steps if an accident does occur.
While just one component of a safety and health management system, a JSA can help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by establishing proper job procedures and ensuring all employees are trained properly. Taking the following steps to ensure your JSAs are accurate and thorough will go a long way in protecting workers and improving risk management.
Ideally, all tasks should be reviewed and evaluated, but that’s not realistic (although it’s a worthy long-term goal). To get a jump-start on the process, gather managers and employees together to offer input on tasks that, in their experience, offer the greatest risk of injury or illness. Also consult injury records and note any distinct patterns in their occurrence.
Clearly, environments like plant floors and construction sites will have many more issues than an office environment, so consider your worksite’s overall risk level when building out the schedule for completing job safety analysis. Armed with employee input, you can prioritize tasks with the highest risk level and begin by completing JSAs for those jobs first.
Your organization’s dedicated safety officer should take the reins, alongside the supervisor or manager responsible for the area where the task takes place. Again, it is important—for accuracy’s sake—to consult the employees who work in that area and carry out the task. Their experiences will be invaluable in understanding how a job gets done, how potential hazards are created, and how to most effectively mitigate or prevent them.
There are four steps in completing a job safety analysis:
Additionally, we believe there is one further step that transforms JSAs from prescribed policy to best practices: effectively communicating the steps to workers. To achieve this, once a JSA spreadsheet has been completed, use that document to create a written how-to guide for the job. Rather than laying out potential hazards and solutions in a chart, create a narrative description of each step workers should take. This is much easier for them to process and remember, and they can access the document as a reference whenever they encounter a potential hazard.
Depending on the size of your organization and the number and complexity of your processes, you may need help conducting job hazard analysis, particularly if you are starting with a clean slate and must analyze numerous jobs concurrently to meet the requirements of your risk management program.
You may turn to your insurance company, the local fire department, or private consultants with health and safety expertise, as well as OSHA. Just remember that your managers and employees should still work alongside the outside professionals in evaluating the process, because they know your processes, equipment, and worksite best.
Once your job safety analysis is complete for all relevant tasks, remember it’s not a one-and-done deal. Processes evolve as new tools and equipment and updated safety regulations are adopted, so periodically review the JSA for each task to ensure the information is still relevant and accurate, using much the same process you used to create it.
Reviewing the JSA and the written procedure you create based on it can serve as a training tool for new employees or those being re-assigned to a different task. It also encourages recurring and ongoing contact between managers and workers, ensuring open communication and better understanding of all tasks and processes from the top of an organization down, and from the bottom up. The JSA can also be used as a standard in safety inspection and as an aid in completing accident investigations and reports.
Although completing thorough job safety analysis can be challenging, your organization benefits from the process through improved worker safety and more effective risk management programs.