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Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
November 13, 2018
A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) by any other name is a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). The discussion will rage on for decades with both sides being right!—and Wrong!
For this discussion, a JSA and a JHA are one and the same with the end result totally the same—attempting to prevent any injury or illness on the job.
For discussion—and continued controversy—I will hereafter refer to the process as a JSA—A Safety Person’s Prerogative!
In most situations, the best approach is to perform a JSA of a particular task or project with internal personnel as long as all the elements are there. 1) The person who performs the task or the person who will perform the task. 2) Supervision—the person who must oversee the work and provide guidance, instruction, and the resources needed. 3) An experienced safety person with the ability to define the hierarchy of safety measures to prevent an injury/illness. In some cases, the safety person may need to be an industrial hygienist who can assess the hazards of a potential exposure and define the measure needed to prevent an illness—again applying a hierarchy of controls available (eliminate, substitute, isolate, ventilate, guard, PPE). In the absence of any safety person on staff, then a third party specialist.
In industry, it is certainly easier to develop a JSA from repetitive tasks especially those that have a record of resulting in injuries or near misses sometimes referred to as “incident.” Also, with most medium sized or large businesses, qualified persons are available.
In construction, it is less likely that the proper persons are available especially the Safety or Industrial Hygiene Person. Often because projects vary in size or diversity, this may prevent a qualified professional with the experience to predict the tasks most likely to result in injury/illness to the worker, from being available from within the organization.
In such situations, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of an outside safety or I.H. professional. This is certainly a possibility in publicly bid projects that may require production of a JSA for each task in the project.
The next issue is what jobs to select. The obvious start is: What have been shown to result in injury/illness from OSHA logs or Workers’ Compensation records. Another important source is “incident” or “near misses”—a failure of equipment or work method that have resulted in equipment failure/loss of product/or need to repeat the task. This is part of the “what if” process of determining the consequences of the event that could have resulted in injury/illness.
When deciding what incident needs a JSA, look into the frequency of the event (does it occur often) or the severity (if the event seldom occurs but the injury potential is high such as multiple injuries or even death). A good example includes a portable grinder where flying debris often occurs and such grinders are used often with the potential for eye injuries or skin abrasions (frequency), or cleaning out an enclosed vessel where the potential for injury/illness is rare but in the case of a permit required confined space the consequences could be a fatality (severity).
After the tasks that should have a JSA have been selected, the next step is to break down the individual steps required to perform the task. Beware of the extremes, too many steps or too few steps! Either tends to make the value of the JSA less effective.
Too Many: Too Few:
TASK: Bench Grinder Use TASK: Drill Holes in Concrete Slab
Inspect grinder Turn on drill
Dust off grinder Drill hole to desired depth
Inspect safety glasses Turn off drill
Clean safety glasses
Turn on grinder
Let cycle up for 15 seconds
Inspect plastic shield
Clean plastic shield
Inspect work gloves
Put on work gloves
There is another often overlooked benefit of performing a JSA on a task where injury or illness may be a reasonable possibility. That is: Recommendations for reducing or eliminating the hazard can often eliminate the injury/illness potential.
For example: Task: Manual removal of metal castings from sand mold. Recommendation: Auto shake-out of castings from molds. Result: Potential hand injuries and dust exposure have been significantly reduced or eliminated altogether.
In developing recommendations, always remember that PPE should be the last choice—not the first and only choice! Here is where the hierarchy of controls can be put in place. By descending order of effectiveness: 1) Eliminate, 2) Substitute, 3) Isolate worker from the task, 4) Guard or ventilate, 5) PPE.
Finally, the best way to develop a JSA is using in-house personnel. They have the most to gain—or lose. However, that is not always possible especially in construction where it is possible the necessary manpower is not available. The outside professional—whether Journeyman, Certified Safety Professional or Certified Industrial Hygienist with the experience, may be required.
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