Every year, various industries all over the world incur losses due to work-related injuries and illnesses, regardless of whether they are classified as fatal or non-fatal. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, there were nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries, with 3 out of 100 full-time workers or employees being affected.

And that number pertained only to those that were reported by private industry employers. There is a high possibility that the number could be higher, accounting for those that were failed to be reported on.

Out of the 3 million cases reported in 2014, 4.9% or nearly 150,000 cases were due to workplace illnesses. The other 95.1%, or around 2.8 million, were attributed to injuries. That figure is broken down further, with a bulk of the work-related injuries taking place in service-providing industries (2.1 million or 75%) while the remaining 25% (or 700,000 cases) were injuries that took place in goods-producing industries.

Another implication of this is the cost to the industries. In a study by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, the direct cost to industries of the most disabling workplace injuries in 2008 amounted to $53 billion.

The BLS also noted that the number of work injuries and illnesses has been steadily declining over the past 12 years, which is good news for the industry and employment sectors.

However, the fact remains that injuries and illnesses still take place in the workplace, and that they still have an adverse effect on businesses and industries. Thus, governments and industries have put in place several measures to ensure that these work illnesses and injuries are kept at a minimum, if not completely eliminated.

One of these measures is through the conduct of job hazard analysis.

Job Hazard Analysis: Definition, Walk-Through and Tips

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In this guide, we explore 1) job hazard analysis by looking at its importance, the major jobs affected, and the major hazards at work and 2) we then show you how to conduct your own job hazard analysis and provide you with some actionable tips.

AN INTRODUCTION TO JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS

Some of you may be more familiar with the phrase “Job Safety Analysis”. Some may have even heard “Job Hazard Breakdown” being used often. That should not be a problem, since they are just other terms for “Job Hazard Analysis” or JHA.

This is simply one of the several identified important tools used in identifying hazards in any industry and, in the process, reducing or even eliminating them.

The official definition provided by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Job Hazard Analysis is as follows:

“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 to an acceptable risk level.”

Basically, a JHA will help businesses reduce or eliminate hazards in a job before anyone gets injured or falls ill because of them. JHA also proves to be very useful when it comes to investigating accidents that have already happened, providing a walk-through of how the accident actually happened. Many also value JHA because it is seen as an effective tool in training workers and employees to do their jobs in a safe manner.

Organizations and businesses, especially those that have a stable structure, often establish a safety and health management system. The JHA is one of the components of that system.

Importance of Job Hazard Analysis

The primary goal of conducting job hazard analysis is to prevent injuries in the workplace that are caused by various hazards, and ultimately prevent losses in both profits and productivity.

Workers, employees, or manpower, in general, is considered to be one of the biggest assets or resources of any business. Therefore, just as businesses take steps to ensure the safety and health of its equipment and machinery, they, too, take the necessary steps to ensure the same when it comes to their workers.

In order to fully appreciate the importance of JHA, let us take a look at some of the benefits that a business can enjoy if they incorporate it into their safety and health management systems.

  • Improved quality of safety and health standards in the organization: By being able to identify the hazards and effect the necessary changes and improvements, the organization is able to improve its safety and health standards and procedures, thereby taking care of the overall safety and health of its workers. Management is able to put in place safe work procedures, and the employees and workers will be more open in their acceptance of these procedures, knowing that it is for their own good.
  • Improved and more effective operations and worker productivity: Safer work methods mean that operations are more effective. Workers that are able to work without worrying about their safety will undoubtedly be more motivated to work better and improve their job performance. Similarly, the employees and workers are also trained to perform their jobs safely.
  • Increased job knowledge of the employees and workers participating in the analysis: Analysis often requires the supervisors, employees, or workers participating in the analysis to discuss the job and observe its actual performance. This will definitely inform them about the functions and tasks by other employees who may belong to different departments or divisions..
  • Improved communication and teamwork between and among supervisors and workers: Increased job knowledge will also foster an improved attitude towards working as an organization, enhancing their teamwork.
  • Reduced costs: JHA will also help the company increase its savings, since it will help in the reduction of workers’ compensation costs. Businesses spend millions of dollars annually in medical and rehabilitation expenses of workers who were injured or who have fallen ill in the workplace. The results of JHA will help reduce the occurrences of these injuries and, in turn, the spending of the business on work injury and illness-related cases.

Watch this job safety analysis training video to learn more.

 

Appropriate Jobs for Job Hazard Analysis

Should you conduct JHA on all jobs in the organization? Ideally, it would be a good idea to do so. However, it may be impractical in some cases. After all, conducting JHA also involves using some resources. The business has to incur some expenses in the conduct of the analysis, and it may deem the expense to be excessive if all jobs are analyzed.

What most businesses do is to identify only specific jobs in their organizational structure that will be subjected to JHA.

We can identify six job groups or categories that are to be prioritized when conducting JHA.

  1. Jobs that have the highest rates of injury or illness;
  2. Jobs that can potentially cause severe or disabling injuries or illnesses to the workers, and to other people in the workplace, even if there is no history of previous accidents;
  3. Jobs in which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury;
  4. Jobs that are new to your operation;
  5. Jobs that have undergone changes in processes and procedures; and
  6. Jobs that are complex enough to require written instructions.

Hazards in the Workplace

Workers are exposed to various types of hazards in their respective workplaces. Some of the top workplace hazards identified include:

  • Chemicals: Employees and workers who are exposed to various chemicals at work have higher chances of acquiring work illnesses. It is possible that workers are constantly exposed to fumes, dust and plasma, either through inhalation, ingestion, or even the simple absorption through the pores of the skin. Other substances that have been proven to be harmful to one’s health are specific types of vapors, gases, and corrosives.
  • Fire and electrical hazards: There are some jobs that require working directly with electricity or electrical power. Electricians, for example, find themselves working with various electrical equipment and power tools every day. Similarly, even those working in an office environment may also be exposed to electrical hazards due to faulty wirings and cables.
  • Physical hazards: These cover hazards caused by noise, vibration, temperature shifts, and changes in pressure. For example, factory workers who spend all their work hours inside a factory around machines with loud whirring noises are at risk of having hearing impairment.
  • Biological hazards: There are jobs that require individuals to work closely with various living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and different types of parasites. Occupations where workers spend their days inside a laboratory are also at risk of being exposed to biological hazards.
  • Falling objects: This is often seen in “hard hat” jobs, such as construction and other industrial works. Many employees, especially those without the necessary safety gear, may sustain injuries because something dropped or fell on them.
  • Accidental falls and other safety hazards: Jobs that have to be performed in higher elevations are faced with higher risks of falling and getting injured in the process. Some workers may also get hurt when surrounded by equipment with sharp and pointy edges.
  • Injury from repetitive actions: It is also considered to be a work-related injury if a worker or employee gets hurt due to performing the same actions repeatedly over a long period of time. For example, an employee who sits in front of the computer and keeps typing for eight hours straight may sustain injuries in his wrists and lower back. A baker that rolls dough for hours on end may complain of sore arms and shoulders.

The Public Services Health and Safety Association identified five sources of hazards in the workplace, and they are:

  1. People: Hazards can arise due to the lack of training and experience of workers. Even the lack of communication between and among workers may also result in accidents. Another area where potential hazards can come from is poor hygiene practices of workers. For example, they may fail to clean up their respective areas at the end of their work shift, so the other workers after them may have an accident.
  2. Equipment and machinery: It may also be happen that workers are not provided with the necessary protective equipment when they perform their tasks. On the other hand, the problem could be with the machines and equipment they are actually using in their jobs. The machine may be poorly maintained or too old already. Many accidents have happened because of a malfunctioning machine or a piece of equipment that should no longer be in service but is still in use.
  3. Materials: The lack of materials may also lead to injuries or, even if there is adequate material, but they are not used correctly, there is potential of work injury or illness. Hazards may also arise from materials that are not stored properly.
  4. Environment: Generally, the most often identified hazard source is the environment where the workers are forced to perform their jobs in. Take a look at the work area or the factory as a whole. How is the air quality and ventilation? Is the physical layout safe for the workers to move around in? How do you rate the housekeeping of the area? Does it pass safety standards?
  5. Process: Hazards may also result from errors and mistakes in the work design and work flow. There may be policies and procedures by the business that are conflicting, such that workers are at risk of being injured or falling ill in their effort to adhere to these guidelines.

Want to see some funny job hazards? Watch this video, don’t laugh, and then implement the right safety strategies in your business.

 

CONDUCTING JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS

It is time to walk you through the conduct of a job hazard analysis. Different organizations may have different approaches, but the general idea remains the same.

Step 1. Select the job to be analyzed.

We have already identified the jobs that are prioritized for JHA. Now it is time to identify the specific job that you will first analyze. Businesses may have different priorities for jobs, but most of them often adhere to the job categories set by OSHA, which was also discussed earlier in this article.

This step will be facilitated if the organization already has an inventory of occupations within the structure, with the occupations having been subjected to risk assessment. This way, all that is needed is to narrow the list down to the occupations or jobs that are deemed to be high-risk, and choose from that list the specific job to perform JHA on.

Step 2. Break down the job into basic steps.

The next thing to be done is to break down the job that will be analyzed into its basic steps. This is done through firsthand observation of an experienced or knowledgeable job observer of the job being performed by an experienced worker.

  • Identify the job steps. A step or, in this specific case, a “job step”, is a segment of the operation that is necessary to advance, or move the work forward.
  • Make the steps specific, but not too detailed. Do not make them too broad or too general because there is a possibility that you may miss some job steps, which will result to you missing their associated hazards. Be careful not to go into too much detail to the point that there are way too many steps. This may only result to redundancy.
  • Record the steps in their correct sequence of events. Usually, this part of the analysis is done by observing the job being actually performed by the worker. This is actually similar to listing down a step-by-step instruction. Therefore, when it is written down or listed, the steps begin with a verb denoting the action that will be made. For future reference, you may also want to capture the step on video or pictures.
  • Keep in mind that you are analyzing the JOB being done, not the WORKER doing the job. You are evaluating “what is done” rather than “how it is done”. Therefore, it is important that the observer have knowledge or experience about the job. On the other hand, it is just as important that the person doing the job is also experienced at it.
  • Job observation should be conducted during normal times, and in normal situations. For example, a job that is normally performed at night, using specific tools and equipment, should be observed during the same hours, using the same tools. It should be a simulation of an actual job performance.
  • Discuss and review the breakdown of steps and the sequencing with all the participants, with primary input provided by the worker. This is to ensure that no steps were missed and the steps are sequenced correctly.

Step 3. Identify potential hazards for each step.

Potential hazards are the possible things that could go wrong while performing each step of the job. This also involves identifying the worst case scenarios.

What will guide you in this step are Frequency, Probability, and Consequence. How often is the task or step performed? At which step of the job do the workers sustain injuries or experience close calls most often? Which steps show the higher probabilities of the worker getting hurt or injured? How severe is the probable injury that may arise in the performance of the job?

  • Be careful to identify the potential hazards and worst case scenarios for each job step, not for the entire job. For each step, ask the following questions:
    • What can go wrong?
    • What are the possible consequences when it does go wrong?
    • What are the reasons for it to go wrong?
    • What are the other contributing factors?
    • What is the likelihood of the hazard occurring?
  • Identification of the potential hazards should be made together with the employee or worker who performed the steps. After all, he is the one who is the most knowledgeable about what could go wrong in each step.
  • Take human error into consideration. Mistakes may be made, completely unintentional on the part of the employee or worker.

Job hazard analysis is very much like risk management. You want to understand the probability of the hazard taking place and the financial impact for the case that happens.

 

Step 4. Determine preventive and control measures.

This is where you identify ways that hazards may be reduced or eliminated. Possible ways may include:

A safer way to do the job, without greatly affecting effectiveness and efficiency

The worker may think of alternative means to perform the job. For example, instead of doing the task standing up, the worker may switch to doing it in a seated position instead, in order to lessen the strain on his lower back.

Substitution and automation are often seen as excellent corrective options. Substitute the process or specific aspect of the job that is deemed hazardous with something safer. Or you can consider automating certain parts of the process or task to make it easier and safer.

Changes in tools or equipment, placing emphasis on those that are safer to use

This is when the potential hazard is clearly traceable to problems with the tools or equipment being used. If, for example, the lever of the machine shows visible rusting, with some metal parts potentially scraping and even cutting through the skin, replacing the lever may be proposed.

Eliminate the tools that are considered to be highly risky or hazardous, and change them with something safer.

Changes in work processes and work layout or workflow

It is possible that the hazard may be caused by the placement of machines throughout the work area. In the example of a factory that assembles a machine, there may be a need to re-evaluate the layout of the machines used in the assembly line. If there is a possibility of employees getting injured because they have to move clear across the factory room floor winding their way around various machines, then a rearrangement will be required.

Another option that may be considered is relocating the work area. For example, if the work area is too cramped or too narrow, you may consider relocating it to a wider space.

This certainly calls for a redesign of the workflow. It might seem like too much work but, in the long run, if it will save you costs of compensation paid to injured workers, it will still be beneficial to the company. Check out the Kanban Methodology for optimizing your workflow.

 

Changes in operations systems, such as engineering controls and administrative controls

Aside from equipment changes, engineering controls may also need to be changed. Improving the lighting in the work area will eliminate hazards often taking place in dim places, such as bumping into machines. If the work area exposes workers to fumes and dust, there may be a need to improve the ventilation.

Or it may also be possible to encourage job rotation. If some employees experience fatigue and body pains due to repetitive actions, rotating jobs may be proposed. Management may also conduct training and re-training of workers.

Installation of safety features for the workplace and equipment or machinery

Machine guards and other safety features may be installed in the machines and equipment, as well as key parts of the work area.

Provision of personal protective gear and equipment

Employees or workers are issued personal protective gear and equipment that they will wear or use while performing their tasks. Examples are gloves, face masks, eye protection, ear protection and hard hats.

Just as you included the employee or worker in the identification of potential hazards, you should also include him in the discussion on how to eliminate or reduce the hazards that they face when performing the steps.

Describe each step or measure that will be taken. Do not use generalizations or general words of caution such as “Be careful” or “Watch your hands”. Being specific means stating them as “Turn the knob slowly from right to left” or “Wear protective gloves before touching any hot surface”.

Steps 2 to 3 can be illustrated in a Job Hazard Analysis Worksheet (or Task Analysis Worksheet) with the following headings:

JOB STEPS POTENTIAL HAZARDS PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
Step 1: Hazard 1 PM 1

PM 2

Hazard 2 PM 1

PM 2

PM 3

Step 2: Hazard 3 PM 1
Step 3: Hazard 4 PM 1

PM 2

Hazard 5 PM 1
Step 4: Hazard 6 PM 1

PM 2

PM 3

Hazard 7 PM 1

PM 2

Step 5. Develop job procedures.

Based on the preventive and control measures identified, job procedures must then be developed in order to correct the unsafe conditions, processes and procedures currently in place.

Step 6. Communicate job procedures.

All corrective procedures and processes must be communicated to all employees, not just those who are directly affected. Any changes must be explained fully, such that they understand why the changes are being implemented and how they will be implemented.

Next, all the employees who do the job must undergo training on the changes or new job procedures.

Step 7. Review the JHA.

Just because you are done with the analysis does not mean that it is completely over and you should forget about it. There is a need to review the JHA and revisit the JHA process. There is a chance that there are hazards you may have missed before.

There is also a possibility that, when the task or process was changed, or you implemented new job procedures, new hazards cropped up. Naturally, these issues have to be addressed, even if it means doing JHA all over again.

TIPS ON CONDUCTING JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS

Conducting job hazard analysis is certainly no walk in the park. It can be tedious for some, and others may even find it too much work. However, here are some tips that you can follow in order to make things easier.

Perform monitoring even after the end of the JHA and implementation of job procedures.

This is to ensure that the controls remain effective. Take note that the control measures and procedures you implemented may no longer be applicable or feasible after a while, considering how fast technology is advancing and effecting work processes.

Encourage full involvement and commitment by management.

Management must show that it is fully committed to the safety and health of the members of the organization, from rank-and-file employees to top management. It should demonstrate its dedication to finding out all possible hazards and correcting or preventing them.

By doing so, they will improve their credibility and employees will have faith that the company values them.

Involve all employees in the process.

As much as possible, make sure that your employees are involved in the JHA process. After all, they are the ones who are actually performing the job or carrying out the tasks, so they are the ones with the most knowledge about the hazards involved. The quality of information that they will provide will definitely beat any written literature about the job that you may obtain from other sources.

Another reason why you should involve employees is to boost their self-esteem. The knowledge that they are part of something important as the safety and health program of the company, or that they have some input in it, gives them a sense of ownership. This will make them feel more valued as members of the organization, and motivate them to contribute more.

One thing you should always remember when involving employees, however, is to make it clear to them that you are investigating the job, and not their performance. That is an entirely different area that makes use of different techniques.

Set priorities on the jobs that will be analyzed.

Keep in mind that, as discussed earlier, you do not have to perform JHA on every single job in the organization, especially if you are short of the resources to conduct them. Before conducting JHA, you should have already identified all the jobs in the organization, and prioritized those that need JHA over those that do not.

One way to go about it is to review the company’s history in relation with hazards and work related injuries or illnesses. You should also include the “close calls”, or those instances where injury was barely avoided, because who’s to say that they won’t happen again and, this time, actually injure someone?

Do not limit JHA participation within the organization.

Aside from representatives of the management, the workers and representatives from the health and safety committee of the organization, you should also consider including in the JHA team other safety professionals, such as occupational hygienists, infection control specialists, and any other professional that is considered an expert in the industry or field that the job falls under.

Document everything.

Include all the relevant information that relate to the steps and their corresponding hazards. This will aid your analysis and help your JHA become more effective and successful.

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