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October 08, 2007
Job Hazard Analysis: The Key to Pinpointing the Hazards Your Employees Face

What is a JHA? According to OSHA, a job hazard analysis (JHA) is a method of "carefully studying and recording each step of a job, identifying existing or potential hazards (both safety and health), and determining the best way to perform the job to reduce or eliminate these hazards." A JHA is especially helpful in identifying the hard-to-detect hazards, which may be discovered only by a systematic and detailed examination of all the tasks involved in a job. Although OSHA doesn't require you to perform a JHA for the jobs your employees perform, the process is strongly recommended by both state and federal occupational safety and health agencies. If a JHA isn't already a fundamental part of your safety program, it certainly should be. And it's an ideal way to get employees involved in hazard detection and elimination, too.

What are the benefits of performing a JHA? A job hazard analysis offers many benefits. For example, it helps:

  • Decrease injury and illness rates
  • Cut down on absenteeism
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve morale
  • Facilitate regulatory compliance
  • Lower insurance costs
Why It Matters ...
  • A JHA provides a focus for your safety and health programs and helps get employees involved in improving workplace safety.
  • A JHA helps you prioritize corrective action to reduce or eliminate job hazards.
  • A JHA can help your organization avoid OSHA violations, citations, and penalties.

Which jobs should you analyze? Ideally, all jobs should be analyzed because all jobs have hazards--even office jobs. But since you can't do everything at once, it makes sense to prioritize. OSHA suggests this priority list when determining which jobs to analyze first:

  1. Jobs with high accident and injury rates
  2. Jobs where near misses have occurred
  3. New jobs
  4. Jobs in which changes have been made in processes and procedures
  5. All other jobs

What's the best way to perform a JHA? Follow these five steps:

Step 1: Break down the job. List each task involved in the job in order of occurrence.

Step 2: Identify the hazards. Examine each task to identify existing or potential hazards. For example, while performing a particular activity, ask yourself, could a worker get a hand or an arm caught in moving machine parts, be struck by an object, fall from a height, or be exposed to environmental hazards such as chemical vapors, excessive noise, or extreme heat?

Step 3: Evaluate the hazards. For example, ask questions like: How serious is the risk? How serious are the consequences of an accident? Are the safety measures you already have in place sufficient to deal with these hazards? Are there additional safety procedures or PPE that could minimize the risk?

Step 4: Look for ways to reduce or eliminate the hazards. Some common ways to reduce or eliminate hazards include performing the job differently, reorganizing the work area to minimize awkward positions and reaches, substituting less-hazardous materials, changing from manual to mechanical techniques, changing tools or equipment, providing new or improved PPE, or beefing up your training.

Step 5: Revise your JHAs. OSHA says you should update a JHA periodically (say, annually or biannually), even if there are no evident problems with the job. But you should also update an analysis following an accident, injury, or near miss; whenever a job changes in any way that could affect safety or health (for example, new equipment, materials, procedures); or when an employee makes a safety complaint.

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