A job hazard analysis can help you identify hazards that can lead to injury.
A job hazard analysis is an exercise in detective work. When conducting a job hazard analysis, you try to discover the following:
- What can go wrong?
- What are the consequences?
- How could it arise?
- What are other contributing factors?
- How likely is it that the hazard will occur?
You can conduct a job hazard analysis on any job. To get the most out of your efforts, though, consider the following types of jobs first:
- Jobs with the highest injury or illness rates,
- Jobs with the potential to cause severe or disabling injuries or illness, even if there is no history of previous accidents,
- Jobs in which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury,
- Jobs that are new to your operation or have undergone changes in processes and procedures, and
- Jobs complex enough to require written instructions.
Where do I begin?
- Involve your employees. Your employees have a unique understanding of the job, and this knowledge will help them identify hazards. Involving employees will help minimize oversights, ensure a quality analysis, and get workers to “buy in” to the solutions because they will share ownership in their safety and health program.
- Review your accident history. Review with your employees your worksite’s history of accidents and occupational illnesses that needed treatment, losses that required repair or replacement, and any “near misses”—events in which an accident or loss did not occur, but could have. These events are indicators that the existing hazard controls (if any) may not be adequate and deserve more scrutiny.
- Conduct a preliminary job review. Discuss with your employees the hazards they know exist in their current work and surroundings. Brainstorm with them for ideas to eliminate or control those hazards.
If any hazards exist that pose an immediate danger to an employee’s life or health, take immediate action to protect workers. Do not wait to complete your job hazard analysis. This will demonstrate your commitment to safety and health. For hazards that present unacceptable risks, evaluate types of hazard controls.
- List, rank and set priorities for hazardous jobs. List jobs with hazards that present unacceptable risks, based on those most likely to occur and with the most severe consequences. These jobs should be your first priority for analysis.
- Outline the steps or tasks. Nearly every job can be broken down into job tasks or steps. When beginning a job hazard analysis, watch the employee perform the job and list each step as the worker takes it. Be sure to record enough information to describe each job action without getting overly detailed. You may find it valuable to get input from other workers who have performed the same job. Later, review the job steps with the employee to make sure you have not omitted something. Point out that you are evaluating the job itself, not the employee’s job performance. Include the employee in all phases of the analysis—from reviewing the job steps and procedures to discussing uncontrolled hazards and recommended solutions.
Sometimes, in conducting a job hazard analysis, it may be helpful to photograph or videotape the worker performing the job. These visual records can be handy references when doing a more detailed analysis of the work.
If you find that a job is too complex or hazardous for you to develop solutions in-house, you can contact an expert. Depending on the type of problem, you could consult with your insurance company, the local fire department or private safety and health consultants. In addition, OSHA offers assistance through its regional and area offices and consultation services.