Everything You Need to Run a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)
There’s a long list of tools available to you for hazard identification and management in the safety field. One of the most effective of these is the job hazard analysis or JHA. A JHA is a safety pro’s best friend because it acknowledges that every task has a potential hazard — no matter how small.
The only way to deal with those hazards is to identify them, assess their severity and frequency, and implement controls to prevent them from wreaking havoc on your injury rate.
What is a Job Hazard Analysis?
A job hazard analysis (JHA) is a tool that breaks down every job or process into individual tasks to identify the associated hazards. With those hazards picked out, you can then use the hierarchy of controls to deal with them. The hierarchy of controls starts with elimination and works down to substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and finally, PPE. Your goal is to eliminate the hazard first. If eradicating it isn’t possible, then replace the hazard, isolate the hazard, divert people away from it, and provide people with PPE if they must interact with it.
When you pick out hazards before work starts, you can then prevent incidents that lead to injury and illness.
The JHA process focuses on four interconnecting relationships: the worker, task, tools, and environment. JHAs are a vital part of the safety landscape because they allow you to be proactive and systematic in job and process design. When you build safety into your systems rather than using it as a blanket, you have more tools at your disposal to prevent incidents and limit hazards.
Is There a Difference between a JHA vs. JSA?
Job hazard analysis (JHA) is one tool, but you also have the term job safety analysis (JSA). What’s the difference between a JHA vs. JSA? Or is there no distinction at all? There are two modes of thinking on the subject. One says that a JHA and a JSA are the same things. However, there is also a camp suggesting that they are two different processes. In a rough poll published in EHS Today a few years ago, the people who believed JHA and JSA are two different tools see them as part of a two-step process. In their view, a JHA occurs at less frequent intervals, and a JSA takes a daily view of hazard identification.
Tip: You can make your own determination on whether to call the process a JHA or JSA because there’s no governing body providing a definition that you must meet. Pick a terminology for your organization and stick to it to avoid confusion.
Does OSHA Require JHA?
OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910.132 requires hazard assessments when determining PPE. Roughly, this means you need to perform a hazard assessment on every job — first to determine whether the worker needs PPE and second to determine the specific PPE requirements. JHAs are a form of hazard assessment, and OSHA doesn’t specifically namecheck the JHA as a mandatory process. In Appendix B of the 1910.132 standard, OSHA provides some non-mandatory guidance for completing hazard assessments. Using a JHA or JSA to identify potential hazards for each work task is recommended.
Bottom Line: No, OSHA does not explicitly require the completion of a JHA for every job. However, completing them does improve compliance and OSHA strongly recommends them because they help you achieve practical safety.
What Makes a Job Hazard Analysis Effective?
A JHA is a form or template, but it’s also so much more than a single activity. To run a successful JHA, you need a few more key elements. One of the essential things required for an effective JHA is buy-in from both management and workers. You need leadership to prioritize JHAs in order to get the time and resources needed to complete them correctly and in good time. Worker buy-in is also critical because every employee has a unique understanding of their job. They’re the ones who do it all day, so they know best the hazards associated with it.
The end goal of a JHA is to make their job safer — not harder. You need to understand their daily job tasks from their perspective, and you can’t do that without their direct input. Though, keep in mind workers may have their own view of what hazards they consider to be avoidable versus unavoidable. Sometimes, “unavoidable” hazards, like equipment design or materials used, are only unavoidable from the employee’s perspective, but in reality, they are fixable with a more sizable process change.
Comprehensiveness is another crucial element of effective JHAs. The good news is that comprehensiveness largely requires a system, usually a template. Once you build a suitable JHA form or template, you can produce JHAs of a similar quality every time. Finally, you need to include the right amount of detail in each JHA. If you’re too eager, you run the risk of having far more detail than is required. We’ll walk through the minimum detail required in the how-to section below.
How to Prepare for a Job Hazard Analysis
Getting JHAs done and getting them right takes a set-up process that you can’t skip. There are three major phases of preparation:
- Prioritizing the JHAs by job hazard severity and hazard frequency
- Securing employee buy-in
- Resolving immediate threats and hazards
Where to Start: Prioritizing Jobs for a JHA
OSHA recommends prioritizing the JHA process and starting with jobs that pose the biggest threat, i.e., jobs with the highest injury rates or near-misses, jobs with high risk levels, high complexity jobs, jobs with elevated OSHA violations, etc. You likely already have an idea of what jobs are most pressing. You can also find these jobs by reviewing your OSHA 300 log, near-miss history, and safety reports. When prioritizing, start with the jobs with the unacceptable risk — where one issue can lead to a catastrophic injury — and work your way down.
Next: Get Employees On-Board Before You Start
Then, it’s time to start getting employees ready for the task at hand. Employee buy-in is critical to your success because very often, there are hazards or near-misses that won’t be obvious to you or won’t make it on the records. Workers don’t always record those “Whoa, that was close moments,” so you need to ask about them.
Don’t Forget: Resolve Major Threats First
OSHA recommends starting with a preliminary job review. Pick out the biggest hazards that require immediate action and design and implement corrective action. You don’t need a JHA to resolve hazards that threaten the life and health of employees or anyone else on site. A JHA reveals hidden hazards and minor hazards, like those that could threaten repetitive use injuries.
How to Fill Out a JHA: Step by Step
With your list of jobs and a workforce ready to run, it’s time to dive into the JHA process. You may have an internal form that walks you through the completion of these steps. Make sure your form leads you through the following steps. Need a JHA template? Download a free one here. (No email required, but you’ll need your Google login.)
A rough step-by-step process for filling out a JHA looks like this:
Step 1: Choose a job from your list (according to priority) and break it down into tasks or steps.
In the first step, pull apart each job into all the individual segments of the job. The simplest way to do it is to watch the worker do the job and list steps to get a full sense of the true order of events. It’s helpful to photograph the steps or take a video. You can then keep it for your records and review it to record any hazards that you may have missed.
Step 2: Identify all hazards for each task.
With all the steps outlined, begin to identify every hazard associated with each step. Some hazards will be obvious (risk of laceration, etc.) and others may hide under the surface (ergonomic, repetitive use, etc.) As you think about each hazard ask and answer the following questions:
- What could go wrong?
- What could cause things to go wrong?
- What factors could create injury?
- What factors could cause equipment damage
Step 3: Create hazard descriptions.
With your hazards identified, you need to describe them in detail. So, it’s time to name them and:
- Describe the hazard type (biological, chemical, ergonomic, etc.)
- Identify the route of exposure
- Outline the frequency and severity of the exposure
- Select a risk probability (could occur, not likely to occur, etc.)
- Identify a risk consequence (first aid, medical treatment, fatality, etc.)
Step 4: Create a plan for hazard control.
The core purpose of a JHA is to control the hazards you identified. You’ll use the hierarchy of controls to eliminate or mitigate each hazard with corrective or preventive actions.
Step 5: Control hazards and repeat.
With your list of corrective actions, it’s time to go back to the task and take action. Be sure you run through the JHA again after control to evaluate the efficacy.
Step 6: Review JHAs periodically.
All JHAs expire eventually. A JHA becomes obsolete when:
- the job changes
- an employee suggests a change to their job design
- when an incident or near-miss occurs despite employees following JHA procedures
You should also have a plan to review and update JHAs regularly, so you confirm or update them even when no incident or injury prompts you to do so.
Build Safer Work Practices with a JHA
With the paperwork complete, it’s time to use JHAs in the field. JHAs are a process by which you identify and evaluate hazards to find appropriate hazard controls. They start with elimination and engineering controls and ultimately work their way down to PPE.
Review your completed JHAs with every employee currently performing the job. Use them to train, re-train, and onboard new employees or those new to the task. Additionally, communicate the results to managers and supervisors to let them know the correct process and manage deviations from the safety program.
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