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EHS professionals know that completing comprehensive job safety analyses (JSAs) is vital to the safety of the workplace, but an important factor in the effectiveness of JSAs that often goes overlooked is making sure you have the right team of people working together to complete them. Yes, you need a team of people to complete JSAs. You’ll never get the full picture of risk in your organization if you send one person around with a clipboard and call it done, and that’s especially true if you’re not involving the employees who actually perform the jobs covered by a specific JSA.  

It’s often the case that a person or two from corporate EHS, sometimes working with a consultant, have completed JSAs without the direct involvement and relevant experiences of the employees who do the job every day and are likely to have the greatest awareness of its hazards. This is an important consideration to consider when building your JSA team. You may also want involve employees from other parts of the facility who perform similar jobs, or if they have demonstrated skills in identifying occupational risks. Each member of your team will see things differently and bring their own experience and skills to the table. By building a diverse team, you’ll identify many more risks and safety best practices that you may have otherwise missed. 

Having a team of diverse voices and perspectives doesn’t complicate the job safety analysis process, it fuels it. When team members are involved in the JSA process, they develop a genuine sense of shared responsibility and accountability for safety, fostering a more proactive safety culture within the organization. Involving the employees who perform the job itself in the JSA process strengthens ownership, engagement, and a deeper understanding of safety procedures among the workforce. This involvement also strengthens buy-in to your safety management program and increases the likelihood that employees will contribute their time and experience to other key safety management tasks when needed. 

Who Should Be on a JSA Team?

When you’re building your JSA team, you should assemble a multi-disciplinary group made up of:  

  • EHS supervisors 
  • Front-line employees who perform the jobs covered by the JSA you’re doing 
  • Employees from other areas or departments who have specific experience or skills relevant to the JSAs you need to conduct (These employees might be from departments including Production, Maintenance, Operations, and Quality)  

The key factor is that the front-line workers performing the job being assessed have the most intimate first-hand knowledge of the tasks and their hazards. While everyone’s input is important in a JSA, the insight that front-line employees can provide is vital to improving the safety of the job – they know what hurts or feels dangerous. Still, don’t overlook the insights that employees on your JSA team from other areas of the workplace can provide. For example, maintenance personnel will have valuable technical knowledge about the function of equipment, including its load capacity (if relevant) or potential hazards such as heat exposure, pinch points, or flying debris.

Once the JSA is complete, the EHS supervisor should incorporate the JSA findings including risk levels and corresponding risk controls into the job process and throughout the workplace. Also think about how you can use the JSAs as a training tool as part of your training program to increase awareness of hazards, controls, and safe work practices for all workers performing that job. Of course, if any details about how the job is performed change that affect its risks and associated controls, you should review and revise the JSA using the same team that created it previously, share the revised JSA with all employees who do that job, and make sure they understand the changes.

The Value of Risk Perception in JSA Teams

A crucial factor to consider when completing JSAs is how much risk employees are willing to accept. There’s a big difference between knowing that you could potentially cut yourself while working with a box cutter and knowing that you could potentially lose a limb from working a piece of equipment. Perceptions of risk severity are relatively consistent from person to person, but we must also consider differences in the perceptions employees have about the likelihood of those outcomes. Perceptions of risk likelihood can differ greatly from person to person and can have a profound on their level of comfort or tolerance with the job’s risks.

For example, employees who do DIY home repairs outside of work and routinely operate hazardous equipment like saws or other power tools and equipment may have a greater sense of security (and in many cases a misplaced sense of security) when it comes to similar jobs performed in the workplace. This is especially true if they’ve never been seriously injured when performing those tasks. An employee who has been injured doing those jobs will probably have a very different perception of the likelihood of those risks.

By building your JSA team to include employees from different backgrounds and experiences within the organization, you’ll be able to tap into those varying perceptions of risk severity and likelihood to make the workplace safer for everyone. They’ll each have a different perception of how high or severe the risk is, and if they understand that they’re working as a team to make the workplace safer for their coworkers and friends, your JSA team is more likely to have productive exchanges of ideas about how to make sure everyone goes home safely every day.

How Can You Continuously Improve Your JSAs?

Building your JSA team encourages the ongoing evaluation and improvement of safety procedures, leading to continuous improvement of workplace safety standards. Conversations will naturally evolve during and after the JSA process, as employees continue to work these jobs and subsequently reassess JSAs on a regular basis.

By pooling the knowledge, skills, and experiences of JSA team members, you can more effectively identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with the job, leading to a safer work environment that prevents incidents rather than just reacting to them.

The new Job Safety Analysis (JSA) capability in VelocityEHS Operational Risk is designed to standardize JSA across your locations, simplifying and streamlining the process of JSAs to help you get more from much less effort.