How to Perform a Job Safety Analysis

December 16, 2020

A job safety analysis (JSA) is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur and is one of the most common preventative tools safety and risk managers use. Often JSA are also used interchangeably with job hazard analysis or (JHA). Coupled with a strong agile management system, JSA's can be part of an important feedback loop to understanding risks in your workplace.

1. Select Job to Analyze

This may sound like a trivial task to select which job function(s) to analyze but this is an important consideration as employers have limited time and resources to analyze all the job functions and depending on the complexity of your business, some jobs may have over a dozens steps.

As best practice, we recommend using the following check list to prioritize which jobs to look at:

  • jobs with highest loss days or days away from work
  • jobs with high potential for injuries and illness
  • jobs with high turnover
  • new jobs or processes or ones that have recently undergone major changes
  • jobs with a high level of complexity that have written instructions or over 10+ hours of on the job training
  • jobs that require operating heavy equipment or where equipment can be deadly to the operator

2. Job Task Breakdown

Regardless of the task or job selected, having accurate information around the workflow and risks presented is key to having a meaningful JSA. JSA's are only as good as the quality of data provided. To perform an accurate JSA, each individual job must be broken down into individual tasks. However, where JSA's can be tricky is making sure they are not too broadly or too narrowly defined. Examples are if a company described a task with "requires lifting". This description is too broadly defined to be useful to evaluate the risk of lifting. However, on the other hand, if a company defines over 30 steps for a job then it becomes overwhelming to dissect risk in each category and some tasks may be unnecessary. We recommend keeping JSA's to 10 steps. If a job is complex in nature that truly requires over 10 steps to complete then break it down into multiple JSA's. It's important to maintain the proper sequence of tasks as they are performed on the job

To perform the job task breakdown, an EHS (environmental health and safety) professional or supervisor familiar with the job are typically required. The two together will manually view the task being down and write down their observations. However, if you need help with getting in touch with an EHS professional and doing your JSA's remotely drop us a note at VIT or at info@vitinitiative.com.

3. Identifying Hazards

Once you have broken the job down to its fundamental tasks, it's time to identify the hazard that are introduce in each part of the process. Examples are a Picking job function at a warehouse includes a task where employees need to unload pallets. It's important to note the weight and dimensions of this pallet and the frequency of this lift. Based on the size and weight of the object combined with the frequency risk managers can identify this task as a high level hazard or low level. In the case of unloading a pallet of 40 pounds of individual packed liquids, this tasks will likely be categorized as a high risk due to the high weight and liquids are notoriously bad for causing injuries.

In addition to one time observations, it's important to audit job risk over a longitudinal period of time. This is where tools like VIT's Arc can come in handy to measure lifting repetition on job tasks that have a history of strain and sprain exposures. In normal circumstances it's very costly and time intensive to have an ergonomic coach come out to a facility and perform a day's worth of observations. Instead using systems like VIT's Arc, companies can track exposure over weeks without needing supervisors to manually take notes.

4. Preventative Measures

This step is one of the most important steps that can be overlooked. It's critical to create a preventative plan once risks have been gathered to ensure employees' exposure to risk can be reduced otherwise the practice of the JSA is useless. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists five controls

  • Elimination - Physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution - Replace the hazard
  • Engineering Controls - Isolate people from the hazard
  • Administration controls - Change the way people work
  • PPE - Protect the worker with personal protective equipment

Once measures have been set in place such as "employees of this job task must wear hardhats", it's important to put together a system to track adherence. Too often, we see companies "set and forget" meaning the put a preventative policy in place and assume everyone in the workplace receives the proper information and follows the recommended guidelines.

Engaging your employees in the corporate safety/risk roadmap is important to the success of safety program. We recommended providing tools to your workforce to help gamify adherence as well as allow your employees and supervisors to report safe and risky behaviors. Many times, corporate audit programs relay on supervisors to help with the audit whereas the workforce itself is an incredibly underutilized pool of information that can help understand if your preventative measures are being followed and what areas need improvement. VIT can help with adherence and engaging your workforce to be part of this feedback loop using our workplace safety platform. Contact us to learn more.

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