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Job Hazard Analysis

Admin Risk Management recommends job hazard analysis programs as an effective method to increase employer and employee safety and health awareness, decrease accidents and near-misses, and improve working conditions.

Note: The content on this page has been reproduced with permission from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) at 250 Main Street East, Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 1H6, 1-800-263-8466 (toll-free in Canada).

What is a Job Hazard Analysis?

A job hazard analysis (JHA) is a procedure which helps integrate accepted safety and health principals and practices into a particular operation, and is one way to increase the knowledge of hazards in the workplace. In a JHA, each basic step of a job is examined to identify potential hazards and to determine the safest way to do the job. Other terms used to describe this procedure are job safety analysis (JSA) and job hazard breakdown. 

Some individuals prefer to expand the analysis into all aspects of the job, not just safety. This approach, known as total job analysis, job analysis or task analysis, is based on the idea that safety is an integral part of every job and not a separate entity. For these purposes, only health and safety aspects will be considered.

The terms job and task are commonly used interchangeably to mean a specific work assignment, such as operating a grinder, using a pressurized water extinguisher, or changing a flat tire. JHAs are not suitable for jobs defined too broadly (e.g. overhauling an engine) or too narrowly (e.g. positioning a car jack).

Benefits of Doing a Job Hazard Analysis

The method used here is to observe a worker actually performing the job. The major advantages of this method include that it does not rely on individual memory and that the process prompts recognition of hazards. For infrequently performed or new jobs, observation may not be practical. With these, one approach is to have a group of experienced workers and supervisors complete the analysis through discussion. An advantage of this method is that more people are involved allowing for a wider base of experience and promoting a more ready acceptance of the resulting work procedure. Members of the joint occupational safety and health committee should participate in this process.

Initial benefits from developing a JHA will become clear in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected hazards and increase the job knowledge of those participating. Safety and health awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of safety work procedures is promoted.

The completed JHA, or better still, a written work procedure based on it, can form the basis for regular contact between supervisors and workers on health and safety. It can serve as a teaching aid for initial job training and as a briefing guide for infrequent jobs. It may be used as a standard for health and safety inspections or observations and it will assist in completed comprehensive accident investigations.

The Four Basic Stages of a Job Hazard Analysis

  • Selecting the job to be analyzed
  • Breaking the job down into a sequence of steps
  • Identifying potential hazards
  • Determining preventive measures to overcome these hazards

What is important to know when selecting the job?

Ideally, all jobs should be subjected to a JHA. In some cases there are practical constraints posed by the amount of time and effort required to do a JHA. Another consideration is that each JHA will require revision whenever equipment, raw materials, processes, or the environment change. For these reasons, it is usually necessary to identify which jobs are to be analyzed. Even if analysis of all jobs is planned, this step ensures that the most critical jobs are examined first.

Factors to be considered in assigning a priority for analysis of jobs include:

  • Accident frequency and severity: jobs where accidents occur frequently or where they occur infrequently but result in disabling injuries.
  • Potential for sever injuries or illnesses: the consequences of an accident, hazardous condition, or exposure to harmful substance are potentially severe.
  • Newly established jobs: due to lack of experience in these jobs, hazards may not be evident or anticipated.
  • Modified jobs: new hazards may be associated with changes in job procedures.
  • Infrequently performed jobs: workers may be a greater risk when undertaking non-routine jobs and a JHA provides a means of reviewing hazards.

Completing the Job Hazard Analysis

To get started with a job hazard analysis, follow the steps below.

  • Complete Preliminary Information

    When completing the Job Hazard Analysis it is important to first complete Items 1 through 7 on the Job Hazard Analysis Form. 

  • Note Personal Protective Equipment
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn by employees when there is reasonable probability that personal injury or exposure to hazardous conditions could occur.
    • Examples of exposures requiring head protection: Falling objects, exposed electrical conductors that could make head contact.
    • Examples of exposures requiring hand protection: Skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical or thermal burns, harmful temperature extremes, radiation, fire, and sparks.
    • Examples of exposures requiring foot protection: Falling and rolling objects, object piercing the sole, electrical hazards.
    • Examples of exposures requiring hearing protection: Noise hazards ≥ 85 decibels (mandatory at ≥ 90 decibels) based on an 8-hour time weighted average.
    • Examples of exposures requiring eye and face protection: Flying particles; molten metal; liquid chemicals, acids, or caustics; chemical gases or vapors; potentially injurious light radiation.

    Note: Slide protection required for flying objects.

    • Examples of exposures requiring torso and leg protection: Welding, cutting, brazing operations, or when full body protection is needed to protect against chemical or physical hazards (e.g. flame retardant clothing or Tyvek suits).
    • Examples of exposures requiring electrical protection: Working on or near energized parts, installations, etc.
    • Examples of exposures requiring respiratory protection: Asbestos and lead removal, insufficient ventilation for chemical and dust exposures, emergency response.

    Note: Monitoring of the employee's breathing zone for air contaminants is part of hazard assessment.

    • Examples of other personal protective equipment may include: a) blood/body fluid exposure requiring protection, touching/cleaning body fluids, non-intact skin, contaminated sharps, items/surface contaminated with body fluids, splashing/spraying/spattering of blood/body fluids to: head, torso or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), first aid, CPR; b) life vests/personal floatation devices when working over a body of water; c) high visibility garment(s) when working near vehicular traffic or mobile earth moving equipment; d) safety harness and lanyards for exposure to fall hazards.

  • Note Special Equipment, Precautions, or Training

    This section should include any specialized equipment, precautions, or training necessary to perform the job safely. Specialized equipment could include lockout tagout devices, ventilation and air circulation devices such as fans, and confined space entry equipment. Specialized precautions could include contacting utility contractor (i.e. water, gas, or electrical). Specialized training could include electrical safety work practices, confined space entry training, or scaffold or fall protection training. Testing/Monitoring equipment could include gas detection instruments that may be necessary for entry into confined spaces or other hazardous locations.

    Note: Personal Protective Equipment and other special equipment precautions or training should be planned prior to the job being performed to ensure that the proper equipment and personnel are available. In essence, when you fail to plan you plan to fail.

  • Break the Job into Basic Steps
    After a job has been chosen for analysis, the next stage is to break the job into steps. A job step is defined as a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work. See examples below.

    Care must be taken not to make the steps too general, thereby missing specific steps and their associated hazards. On the other hand, it they are too detailed, there will be too many steps. A rule of thumb is that most jobs can be described in less than ten steps. If more steps are required, you might want to divide the job into two segments, each with its separate JHA, or combine steps where appropriate. As an example, the job of changing a flat tire will be used in this document.

    An important point to remember is to keep the steps in their correct sequence. Any step which is out of order may miss potential hazards or introduce hazards which actually exist. Record each step in sequence and make notes about what is done rather than how it is done. Each item is started with an action verb. Job steps are recorded in the left hand column. See the example form.

    This part of the analysis is usually prepared by watching the worker do the job. The observer is normally the immediate supervisor but a more thorough analysis often happens by having another person, preferably a member of the joint occupational health and safety committee, participate in the observation. Key points are less likely to be missed in this way. 

    The worker to be observed should be experienced and capable in all parts of the job. To strengthen full co-operation and participation, the reason for the exercise must be clearly explained. The JHA is neither a time and motion study in disguise, nor an attempt to uncover individual unsafe acts. The job, not the individual, is being studied in an effort to make it safer by identifying hazards and making modifications to eliminate or reduce them. The worker's experience can be important in making improvements. 

    The job should be observed during normal times and situations. For example, if a job is routinely done only at night, the JHA review should also be done at night. Similarly, only regular tools and equipment should be used. The only difference from normal operations is the fact that the worker is being observed. 

    When completed, the breakdown of steps should be discussed by all the participants (always including the worker) to make sure that all basic steps have been noted and are in the correct order.

  • Identify Potential Hazards
    Once the basic steps have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified at each step. Based on observations of the job, knowledge of accident and injury causes, and personal experience, list the things that could go wrong at each step. 

    A second observation of the job being performed may be needed. Since the basic steps have already been recorded, more attention can now be focused on potential hazards. At this stage, no attempt is made to solve any problems which may have been detected.

    To help identify potential hazards, the job analyst may use questions such at these (this is not a complete list):
    • Can any body part get caught in or between objects?
    • Do tools, machines, or equipment present any hazards?
    • Can the worker make harmful contact with objects?
    • Can the worker slip, trip, or fall?
    • Can the worker suffer strain from lifting, pushing, or pulling?
    • Is the worker exposed to extreme heat or cold?
    • Is excessive noise or vibration a problem?
    • Is there a danger from falling objects?
    • Is lighting a problem?
    • Can weather conditions affect safety?
    • Is harmful radiation a possibility?
    • Can contact be made with hot, toxic, or caustic substances?
    • Are there dusts, fumes, mists, or vapors in the air?

    Potential hazards are listed in the middle column of the worksheet, numbered to match the corresponding job step. See the example form.

  • Determine Preventive Measures

    The final stage in a JHA is to determine ways to eliminate or control the hazards identified. The generally accepted measures, in order of preference, are: 

    • Eliminate the hazard - This is the most effective measure. These techniques should be used to eliminate the hazards:
      • Choose a different process
      • Modify an existing process
      • Substitute with less hazardous substance
      • Improve environment (ventilation)
      • Modify or change equipment or tools
    • Contain the hazard - If the hazard cannot be eliminated, contact might be prevented by using enclosures, machine guards, worker booths or similar devices. 
    • Revise work procedures - Consideration might be given to modifying steps which are hazardous, changing the sequence of steps, or adding additional steps (such as locking out energy sources). 
    • Reduce the exposure - These measures are the least effective and should only be used if no other solutions are possible. One way of minimizing exposure is to reduce the number of times the hazard is encountered. An example would be modifying machines so that less maintenance is necessary. The use of appropriate personal protective equipment may be required. To reduce the severity of an accident, emergency facilities, such as eyewash stations, may need to be provided. 

    In listing the preventive measure, use of general statements such as be careful or use caution should be avoided. Specific statements which describe both what action is to be taken and how it is to be performed are preferable. The recommended measures are listed in the right hand column of the worksheet, numbered to match the hazard in question. See the example form.