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How to Identify Workplace Hazards by Performing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

Be an active participant in workplace safety and identify job safety hazards before they cause an accident or injury.

Mike Close

Do you know who’s responsible for your safety on the job site? Many workers mistakenly think that their safety, and the safety of their co-workers, is the responsibility of their supervisor, foreman, a union rep, or a Director of Safety. While these people may be involved in the implementation, training, and management of a safety program on site, they’re not actually capable of keeping their eyes on all situations and all employees at all times.

Ultimately, the responsibility for your own safety falls solely on the shoulders of one person—YOU.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can be an active participant in workplace safety, how you can help to create a culture of safety, and how you can identify workplace hazards, perform a job safety analysis (JSA), and take action on controlling and eliminating those hazards before they cause an accident or injury.

How to Get Employee Buy-in and Create a Culture of Safety

Each person on the job site has their own understanding of what they do and how they do it. Making sure that everyone shares ownership in developing and maintaining programs for equipment compliance, and employee safety, will help to minimize oversights, help perform a quality and thorough analysis, and get workers to “buy-in” to what you’re looking to build. The best way to get employee buy-in is to have them actively involved in the development of safety processes and procedures from the very beginning.

What Is a Job Safety Analysis (JSA)?

How to Identify Workplace Hazards by Performing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA): Job Site Safety

A JSA focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment—and identifies hazards before they occur.

One of the first things that you can do to help keep your job site safe is to begin identifying hazards. OSHA defines a hazard as a condition, or a set of circumstances, that present a potential for harm. A hazard is often associated with a condition or activity that will cause illness (health hazard) or physical harm or injury (safety hazards).

Hazards are the main cause of occupational health and safety problems. The single most effective way to assess safety management on your job site or facility is to perform a Job Safety Analysis, or JSA.

A JSA focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment and to identify hazards before they occur. After a hazard is identified, a determination is made on how to control or eliminate the hazard altogether.

Taking the time to perform a job safety analysis is truly invaluable. By controlling or eliminating hazards in the workplace, you help reduce the risk of an accident. Think about how quickly the costs of a workplace accident or fatality can add up, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Low employee morale
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Work force shortages

What to Look for When Conducting a Job Safety Analysis

How to Identify Workplace Hazards by Performing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA): Job Site Safety

When performing a JSA, start by identifying potential hazards for jobs or activities that are considered higher risk.

The first thing that you should do when performing a job safety analysis is to identify the types of jobs or activities that you or your co-workers perform that could be considered higher risk. Think along the lines of:

  • Jobs with the highest injury rates
  • Jobs with the potential to cause the most severe or disabling injuries
  • 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 process and procedure
  • Jobs complex enough to require written work instructions

In addition to reviewing high-risk jobs or activities, you can also review any type of applicable OSHA standards for your industry and use those to formulate scenarios that become the basis for identifying existing hazards. Think in terms of using any applicable OSHA standards for fall protection, equipment operation, hazardous materials, inspection, lock-out/tag-out, etc. as a starting point.

Once you’ve identified potentially risky jobs or activities, apply each of the questions below and document your answers:

  • When I perform this job or activity, 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?

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Next Steps

You should now have a pretty comprehensive list of hazards, or potential hazards, specific to the jobs and actions performed at your job site or facility. Your next step is to sit down with your co-workers and put an action plan together to help control or eliminate these hazards.

  1. Get everyone involved: Nobody understands what they do and how they do it, better than the person performing the job or task. Make sure that everyone on site is actively involved and shares ownership in your safety programs.
  2. Review accident history: Analyze your recordable number and determine the frequency or history of accidents and injuries that needed treatment—be sure to include and review reported “near misses” as well. This will help to determine if your existing hazard controls are effective or not.
  3. Conduct a preliminary job review: Find out what hazards exist that your employees already know about. Brainstorm ways to control or eliminate those hazards and determine if you can take immediate action to protect your employees.
  4. Rank and prioritize hazardous jobs and activities: Determine which hazards present unacceptable risks based on those most likely to occur and those that would have the most severe consequences. Develop an action plan to control or eliminate these hazards.
  5. Break down each job into tasks or steps: Watch and record each step an employee takes when performing a job or activity—recording video or taking pictures of each step would be even better! Next, talk with other workers who may have performed the job in the past to get their feedback. Finally, review the steps with the employee to make sure that nothing was left out and consider what methods can be used to control or eliminate any hazards.

Changes in OSHA’s Fall Protection Requirements

How to Identify Workplace Hazards by Performing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA): Fall Protection Job Site

OSHA can cite you for failing to provide fall protection equipment at working heights of as little as 4-8 feet.

OSHA states that Fall Protection is the #1 most frequently cited violation on the job site and they have established industry-specific requirements (OSHA 1926.501 – Duty to Have Fall Protection) to reduce the risk that comes with working at height. You may be surprised to learn that you can be cited for failing to use fall protection equipment at working heights of as little as 4-8 feet. See below for industry-specific guidelines:

  • Four feet – General industry
  • Five feet – Shipyards
  • Six feet – Construction
  • Eight feet – Longshore operations

Fortunately, compliance in fall protection is increasing and reaching the board rooms of many corporate executives—in part, because enforcement of mandatory training in fall protection started in May of 2017. If employers are not providing training on fall protection to their employees that are working at height, they can be cited for it.

How We Can Help

How to Identify Workplace Hazards by Performing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA): Fall Protection Lifelines

Give us a call if you’re interested in a consultation, equipment, or training for Fall Protection.

At Mazzella, we have certified trainers on staff who specialize in fall protection. We offer fall protection inspection and training services that meet the new OSHA requirements and we also carry a full line of fall protection equipment, including:

  • Harnesses
  • Anchors
  • Retractables
  • Lifeline Systems
  • Lanyards
  • And so much more

Look at it this way, safety is an investment that, over time, keeps you and your co-workers safe. Remember that safety is the responsibility of everyone on site. By working with your co-workers and taking the time to thoroughly assess the jobs and tasks that you do on site, you can take a proactive approach to identifying potential hazards and most importantly—control or eliminate them before they have the potential to cause accidents and injuries.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can become compliant with fall protection standards, or you’re looking to schedule a training session or consultation on fall protection, contact us to speak with a specialist.

Copyright 2017. Mazzella Companies.

Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.