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Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is a trusted and essential process for integrating EHS best practices with individual job tasks in order to improve workplace safety and efficiency. In short, JSA is a formal process for the assessment of workplace hazards, and for developing and implementing hazard prevention methods. Job Safety Analysis was first conceived as early as 1927 in a National Safety Council publication which described “a process of subdividing the operations, listing related hazards and adopting standard methods for streetcar operators.” It has since become best-practice for workplace hazard assessment and prevention planning.

Some OSHA standards require formal hazard assessments for work environments where PPE is deemed necessary (29 CFR Part 1910.132), where work is performed in confined spaces (1910.146), and for documenting lockout/tagout procedures (1910.147). OSHA has repeatedly recognized the value of JSAs in maintaining safety and regulatory compliance, and has published numerous guidelines regarding their use.

Whether JSAs are observational or committee-based, their outcome should ultimately be the same — to identify potential hazards associated with job tasks and develop recommendations for safer, more efficient job performance. EHS managers, safety professionals, supervisors and employees each play an important role in conducting a JSA. By facilitating communication, participation and engagement among each of these roles, JSAs will offer your organization a greater depth of experience, the opportunity to identify unforeseen hazards, and increased support for safety in your workplace.

There are four basic steps to performing a Job Safety Analysis:

  1. Select the job to be analyzed
  2. Break the job down into a defined sequence of steps or tasks
  3. Identify the potential hazards of each task
  4. Develop preventative measures to reduce or eliminate hazards

Job Selection

Selecting the job to be analyzed sounds simple, but it is a vital consideration when employers have limited time and resources to analyze all of the various jobs associated with their operations. In addition, job tasks often change with the introduction of new equipment, raw materials, processes or work environments. Generally, JSAs should be prioritized using the following criteria:

  1. Jobs with the highest frequency or severity of incidents and injuries
  2. Jobs with the highest potential for injury or illness
  3. Newly implemented jobs and processes where hazards have not yet been fully identified
  4. Recently modified jobs and processes
  5. Non-routine jobs where workers may not have high awareness of hazards

Job Task Breakdown

Before discussing job task breakdown, it’s helpful to first draw a distinction between “tasks” and “jobs” when discussing JSAs. “Tasks” are the individual steps or functions that are required, in sequence, to complete a multi-step work process, or “job.” To perform a thorough and accurate JSA, each job must be broken down into a clearly defined sequence of individual tasks. EHS professionals should avoid defining individual job tasks too narrowly or too broadly. Generally speaking, a job should contain no more than 10 individual tasks. If your JSA exceeds this number, consider separating the job into two or more separate phases. It is also vital to maintain the proper sequence of job tasks to ensure that during the hazard identification phase, hazards are addressed in the order they are encountered by employees.

Job task breakdown is typically accomplished through direct observation, with at least one EHS professional or direct supervisor familiar with the job recording the series of individual tasks as they are performed by an experienced employee. Observation of an experienced employee helps ensure that job tasks are performed in the proper sequence with a high level of precaution, helping to identify unforeseen hazards more easily. Once the observation is complete, participants should convene to review the findings and ensure that all steps were sufficiently identified.

Identifying Hazards

Hazards should be identified soon after the observation and job task breakdown, while the sequence of job tasks and potential hazards is still fresh in participants’ memories. Additionally, if one or more job tasks need to be repeated, it can be done immediately, when possible.

A number of questions should be asked to assess the potential hazards in performing individual job tasks. Proceed through the sequence of job tasks one at a time and answer questions such as:

  • Are there any pinch points or potential for body parts to be caught between moving parts?
  • Does the equipment in use present any potential hazards?
  • Is there a potential for slips, trips or falls?
  • Is there a risk of injury due to excessive strain from lifting, pushing or pulling?
  • Is there a risk of exposure to extreme heat or cold?
  • Does the task expose employees to excessive noise or vibration?
  • Is there potential for exposure to toxic/hazardous substances, harmful radiation or electrical hazards?

This list is by no means exhaustive, and the questions asked should reflect the unique potential hazards and work environments associated with each job. Employees performing the tasks for which the job safety analysis is being conducted should provide input and insight to the hazard identification process, and strive to consider every possible outcome in the performance of each task.

Developing Preventative Measures

There are four common strategies used in developing preventive measures for hazards associated with job tasks. They are listed here in order of priority.

  1. Eliminate the hazard — Select alternate processes, modify existing processes, use less hazardous substances, modify the work environment or modify equipment
  2. Contain the hazard — Prevent contact or proximity to hazards using machine guards, enclosures, safety mechanisms and other engineering controls
  3. Revise work procedures — Eliminate hazardous tasks where possible, change the sequence of tasks or add additional steps where precautionary measures are appropriate
  4. Reduce hazard exposure — Minimize instances of hazard exposure, make use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and provide injury and illness treatment (first aid, eyewash stations, medical facilities, etc.)

Again, these hazard prevention measures are listed in order of priority, with hazard elimination widely considered to be the most effective, longest-term solution to improving job safety.

Documenting and Communicating Job Hazard Analysis Findings

After a JSA has been completed, the findings should be made available to employees so that they’re aware of the hazards associated with the jobs they will be performing, and know what preventive measures will help promote a safer workplace. Employees should be provided with quick and easy access to JSA information so they can refer to it when encountering new or modified tasks, equipment, materials and work environments. Employers need the ability to archive and reference this information to comply with hazard assessment and prevention requirements, and to protect themselves from liability in the event of civil or criminal proceedings.

Looking for an easier way to perform Job Safety Analysis? The VelocityEHS Risk Analysis solution simplifies the documentation of JSAs at each of your facilities, and throughout your entire organization. You can quickly and easily create risk registers that show the hazards, risk levels, causes and preventative measures associated with any work process. The results of your JSAs can be viewed by your employees from anywhere, at any time, using any mobile device — giving them access to hazard information and preventive measures so they can work safer and more efficiently. Our solution allows you to initiate and track corrective actions for each of the hazards you identify, assign and communicate corrective action roles, and ensure that preventative measures are effectively implemented. VelocityEHS Risk Analysis software will help you eliminate hazards in your workplace and improve the efficiency of your organization through better risk management.

In support of National Safety Month, VelocityEHS is sharing tips and information throughout the month of June to help EHS professionals strengthen their commitment to worker safety. Follow along on Twitter and LinkedIn for more information.