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Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
November 13, 2018; updated October 2021
Job Safety Analysis (JSA) / Job Hazard analysis (JHA)
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 as well.
For this discussion, a JSA and a JHA are the same with the result being the same—attempting to prevent all 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. These elements include:
- The person who performs the task or the person who will perform the task.
- Supervision—the person who must oversee the work and provide guidance, instruction, and the resources needed.
- An experienced safety person can 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 potential exposure hazards and define the measure 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, a third party specialist is used.
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.
It is less likely that the proper persons are available in construction, especially the Safety or Industrial Hygiene contact. 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.
In such situations, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of an outside safety or IH professional. This is certainly a possibility in publicly bid projects that may require the production of a JSA for each task in the project.
Jobs Selection – Which Incident Needs a Job Safety Analysis (JSA)?
The next issue is jobs selection. It is clear to see which hazards result in injury/illness from OSHA logs or Workers’ Compensation records. Another essential source is “incident” or “near misses”—a failure of equipment or work method that has resulted in equipment failure/loss of product/or need to repeat the task. This is part of the “what if” process in 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 safety incidents (does it occur often?) and the severity (how bad are the consequences?). A good example includes a portable grinder where flying debris often occurs. Such grinders are used frequently with the potential for eye injuries or skin abrasions (frequency) or cleaning out an enclosed vessel where the potential for injury/illness is rare. Still, in permit required confined space, the consequences could be a fatality (severity).
After the tasks that need a JSA have been selected, the next step is to break down the individual steps required to perform the job. Beware of the extremes (too many steps or too few steps) because either of them tend 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
Another often overlooked benefit of performing a JSA on a task where injury or illness may be a reasonable possibility is that recommendations for reducing or eliminating the hazard can often eliminate the injury/illness potential.
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.
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, and 5) PPE.
Finally, the best way to develop a JSA is using in-house personnel. They have the most to gain and lose. However, that is not always possible, especially in construction where 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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