How to Conduct a Job Hazard Analysis
Expertise provided by Bret Hinerman, BBSI Risk Consultant
All workplaces have hazards, but some industries have a higher risk for workplace injuries. At these businesses, setting up processes to mitigate risk is especially important. A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is a framework employers can use to identify the hazards associated with different positions and implement plans to reduce the impact of those hazards.
JHAs allow employers to assess each aspect of a high-risk position and develop personalized safety measures for hazardous activities. JHAs also help employees recognize any hazards associated with each task and manage the risk level appropriately, especially for functions that aren’t part of their usual routine.
Perhaps most importantly, by conducting JHAs, employers emphasize safety as one of their core values and build it into their workplace culture. An effective JHA brings safety to the forefront of the business, helping limit potential accidents and reduce the cost associated with workplace injuries.
Let’s walk through a step-by-step breakdown of how to conduct an effective JHA.
Identifying Hazardous Roles and Their Tasks
It’s vital to prioritize high-risk roles when conducting JHAs. Look at your safety data to identify positions with the highest risk level. Identify roles with a history of accidents, injuries, and safety incident reports, even if the incidents didn’t result in an injury.
Once you decide which roles to target with your JHA, break each position into a list of tasks. Seek employee feedback in these roles to ensure you develop a comprehensive list that accurately describes the position. When making the list, focus on naming each step associated with an employee’s role rather than their general responsibilities. To ensure you’re covering all relevant risks, mention specifics, such as the equipment they use and where they work.
Consider a JHA for a general laborer at a construction company. If one of their primary duties is operating a jackhammer, the JHA should break up that task into short, granular descriptions.
For example, the task may involve removing the jackhammer from the truck, positioning the equipment, and squeezing the device trigger. Outlining these specific sub-tasks makes it easier to identify the risks associated with each one.
Listing Hazards for Each Task
Once you have a comprehensive list of tasks, describe all potential hazards related to those tasks. Although workplace safety data can help you identify some of these hazards, you can obtain the most accurate, relevant information through direct employee conversations.
OSHA defines six categories of workplace hazards, many of which can be found in multiple high-risk industries. For each task, consider if any of the following apply:
- Safety hazards: These are especially common in the construction and manufacturing industries. They include electrical hazards, working from heights or confined spaces, poor electrical wiring, and spills.
- Physical hazards: Physical hazards focus on how simply existing in an unsafe environment can impact the body. They include radiation, unsafe temperatures, and noise pollution.
- Biological hazards: Biological contamination from bodily fluids, mold, bacteria, plants, and insects is particularly common in healthcare occupations.
- Chemical hazards: Chemicals can be found in many types of workplaces. Pesticides, cleaning materials, and other fumes can all impact employee health.
- Work organization hazards: Ongoing stress from a heavy workload or workplace harassment can also have long-term health consequences.
- Ergonomic hazards: The strain you experience from your posture and movements may result in repetitive motion injuries, strains, and chronic pain.
For example, one of the tasks in a plumber’s JHA may be entering a basement to repair pipes. Potential hazards may include engulfment from pipes flooding, mold exposure from the damp environment, and muscle strain from bending to access hard-to-reach pipes.
Next, assess the risk level of each hazard — that is, the likelihood of each hazard occurring and the potential outcome. Assigning a risk level to each hazard can help you prioritize safety measures. Unlikely hazards with mild outcomes have the lowest priority, while likely hazards with severe outcomes are the most important to address. It’s imperative to consider both factors when determining the risk level of your workplace hazards.
Many companies categorize risk levels by color, from green, low-level risks, to red, high-level risks. For example, a construction laborer may risk falling when working on a bridge. Even if falls are somewhat unlikely, the consequences of falling from a bridge could range from severe injury to death, making this a red-level concern.
Mitigating Risks With Safety Controls
Once you thoroughly understand the hazards and risks associated with each role, make recommendations for mitigating potential incidents. Common safety controls to consider include:
- Engineering controls: Modifying or changing equipment or materials can help you limit or remove the hazard.
- Administrative controls: If you can’t remove a hazard entirely, consider changing your processes. Administrative controls can include posting signage, providing additional training, or implementing additional safety checks.
- Personal protective equipment: Physical protection such as gloves, goggles, hearing protection, and respirators help mitigate risk when other controls don’t provide enough protection.
Start with high-level engineering changes when developing safety controls and work your way down. You can build safety into your processes by considering innovative ways to eliminate the hazard.
Implementing Safety Updates
As processes evolve and new equipment versions enter the market, the risks and hazards in your industry may change. Regularly auditing your JHA helps ensure you’re offering relevant safety protection for all emerging hazards. Responsible employers should review their JHA yearly and incorporate additional updates whenever they introduce new equipment or a new work environment.
Employees should also have a substantial role in forming the initial JHA and creating updates. This helps ensure employers have the most relevant information for the JHA and provides valuable employee buy-in. Discuss any JHA changes in routine safety meetings, outlining specific tasks and related safety measures.
Manage Workplace Hazards With BBSI
JHAs empower employers to be proactive in their safety planning before their employees even have the opportunity to get into a workplace accident. BBSI’s team of risk management professionals can walk you through conducting a JHA, helping you mitigate hazards before they occur. Our team stays on top of safety regulations and industry updates to help you implement the best safety practices.
Invest in your team’s safety by connecting with the BBSI team today.
Disclaimer: The contents of this white paper/blog have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. The content does not provide legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between BBSI, the author(s), or the publishers and you. You should not act or refrain from acting on any legal matter based on the content without seeking professional counsel.