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Session No.

531

Integrating JHAs

Langdon Dement, MS, AEP, GSP


UL Workplace Health & Safety
Franklin, TN

Introduction
Nearly 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry
employers in 2012 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013) and 4,383 workers died on the job (National
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2013).
Among all the workers who are injured on the job, how many thought to themselves, Ive
done this job hundreds of times; Im not going to get hurt. Until the moment happens to them
and its too late.
Unfortunately, many employees think they are doing their job correctly when in reality
they are working in an unsafe manner. This is not to say that the job was done incorrectly to begin
with, but over time deviations from the proper procedure can occur. When that happens, workers
adapt their work methods to the ever-changing workplace. In time, this can result in at-risk work
practices becoming normalized into routine procedures. In an effort of trying to correct these
improper deviations, employees will look at the job as a whole and overlook crucial hazards
instead of breaking the task down into its component steps. This is a common, worldwide
problem.
A job hazard analysis (JHA) is one answer to this problem. . The Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) define a JHA as a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to
identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the
tools, and the work environment (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2002).
JHAs are an essential part of a comprehensive safety program. However, the JHA is often
overlooked as a particularly beneficial training tool, and without it the potential for injuries and
fatalities is elevated. A JHA is not just about identifying hazards and risks. It is a transformative
process that illuminates how specific aspects of a job are performed, allowing workers to rate
risks associated with each task and prioritize corrective actions to eliminate those risks.
Ultimately, it changes workers attitudes toward their jobs.

This article features three parts: preparation and integration of the JHA in a workplace
safety program, connections with ergonomics and JHA-associated benefits.

Preparation and Integration


It is important to understand which types of jobs are best suited for a JHA. Not all jobs
necessarily need one, but many will require a JHA for a deeper appreciation of the individual
tasks that comprise the job as a whole. According to OSHA, a JHA is specifically well-suited for
jobs (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2002):

with high injury or illness rates;


with the potential to cause death/severe injuries or illnesses;
in which a single error could lead to a severe accident or injury;
that are new to an operator;
in which there have been changes in equipment, processes or procedures; and
that are complex enough to require written instructions.

As youre looking at the jobs that are in need of a JHA, consider the methodology. JHAs
enable participants to break the task down into to detailed, component steps. JHAs help
employees recognize all the hazards that are associated with a specific job, in turn reducing the
potential for accident or injury.

Considerations
There is no firmly established template or standard method for a JHA. Its important to use a
plethora of methods early in the development process. Direct observation is pivotal in the early
stages. Its helpful to take photographs and /or using a video camera to refresh your memory later.
The more deeply a job is examined, the greater the likelihood specific hazardous components will
become apparent. Interviewing the worker and reviewing the written job description is also
crucial to gain a deeper insight into specific job tasks.
Often it isnt until after an injury occurs that the questions start: How did it happen? Why did it
happen? Was I doing the job correctly or as I have always done it? The JHA puts a proactive spin
on these questions.
Its also important to note that JHAs can be subjective. For example, what distinguishes a
low / medium / high hazard from one worker to another? Moreover, what happens to those
workers who have pre-conceived notions regarding the job? To one employee, the task might be
easy, while to another its actually quite difficult. What about the many employees who think the
job process cannot be changed or improved? This is one of the reasons we recommend involving
multiple workers so various perspectives can be shared and risk perceptions can be aligned.

Hazard Recognition
Hazard recognition will assist in identifying perceived, existing, and potential hazards and what
will happen if exposure occurs (Roughton & Crutchfield, Job Hazard Analysis, 2008). The JHA
should be designed to answer certain questions that provide insights into specific job tasks and
hazards associated with the job. For example (Occupational Safety and Health, 2002):
What can go wrong?
How could it happen?
How likely is the accident to happen?

What are the consequences?


What can be done to eliminate the hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level?

Answers to these questions help ensure the hazard is eliminated or reduced to the greatest extent
possible.

Hierarchy of Controls
Its also important to understand the controls that are available when striving to correct problems
with a specific task. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,
Controlling exposures to occupational hazards is the fundamental method of protecting workers
(NIOSH, Workplace Safety & Health Topics, 2010).
The Hierarchy of Controls is organized as follows:

Elimination eliminating the hazard from the process


Substitution substituting a less hazardous material or method from the original
Engineering controls redesigning or changing the job or product to isolate the hazard
Administrative controls changing the way the job is assigned, scheduled or performed
Personal protective equipment the last line of defense between workers and the hazards

Prioritizing Severity
A matrix that can be used to prioritize risk is another important tool that should be considered
when creating a JHA process. Risk matrices are used to evaluate the severity and probability of
the incident occurring again. Although this can be subjective, it is a valuable tool in determining
hazard risk.

Ergonomics Connection
When conducting a JHA, its important to realize the variety of hazards that could be present.
Many organizations do not effectively identify issues related to ergonomics when conducting a
JHA. Breaking down specific tasks is an ideal time to consider ergonomic aspects of the job as a
whole.
NIOSH defines ergonomics as, the scientific study of people at work (NIOSH,
Ergonomics, 2013). It is fitting the job to the person in an effort to reduce stress on the body and
eliminate possible work-related injuries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)


accounted for 34 percent of all injury and illness cases in 2012. More specifically, there were
388,060 MSDs in all sectors (private, state and local government) with an incidence rate of 38
cases per 10,000 full-time workers (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).
Ergonomic issues affect all types of people and occupations. Occupations such as nursing
assistants and registered nurses; laborers and freight, stock and material movers; janitors and
cleaners; maintenance and repair workers; and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are among
the most vulnerable populations, representing more than 25 percent of MSD cases. In 2012, MSD
cases accounted for a median of 12 days away from work compared to nine days for all other
types (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).
MSDs can affect workers for sustained periods of time and can recur in the absence of
intervention. With ergonomics, its important to be aware of the risk factors that could lead to
injuries. They are:

Awkward posture
Force
Contact stress
Repetitive motion
Vibration
Extreme temperatures

Obviously, awareness of these types of hazards is a pivotal part of the hazard reduction
process. In many instances, quantification is needed to evaluate the hazard and the associated
risk, for instance, a worker is constantly bending over and picking up boxes throughout the day.
The boxes may be light weight, but the repetitive process of bending over to lift them still has
cumulative effects. Using the NIOSH Lifting Equation during a JHA, for example, helps
employers and workers better understand body mechanics and risks associated with repetitive
lifting.

Benefits
When properly applied, the job hazard analysis is a tool that enables workers to be more engaged
in the job and aware of potential hazards. It assists with the establishment of best practices for
performing tasks and implementation of effective safety controls for the specific job. The JHA
should be treated as a relevant training instrument designed to raise workplace safety and health
awareness. Optimally, it encourages employee engagement and assists in outlining preventative
measures (Roughton & Crutchfield, 2008).
The goal for any employer should be to keep workers as safe and healthy as possible. As
the JHA becomes more utilized within the organization and workers begin to become more aware
of safe practices, higher productivity, lower injury rates, reduced absenteeism, and increased
morale should occur. This is also going to enable more communication between the employer and
employees and create a positive safety culture.

Conclusion
A job hazard analysis is one method that can assist workers in creating a safe and healthy
workplace. By breaking the task down and evaluating each step, there is a greater potential to
recognize all the possible hazards associated with the specific job. JHAs arent the most
glamorous aspect of a safety program, but they are an excellent vehicle for training and hazard
recognition. The JHA empowers workers look at their job in a different light a safer one by
helping them:

prioritize the jobs and tasks to be analyzed


break down the job
analyze each step and identify potential hazards
identify and implement controls to reduce / eliminate hazards

Finally, the JHA serves workers for the life of their job. These are tools that need to be revisited and re-evaluated on a regular basis or when a change of a work process or injury has
occurred. The JHA is a tool that promotes deeper thinking about the task and a greater
understanding of how to rate risk, recognize hazards and work safely.
Practically speaking, the JHA is only going to be truly effective if the organization has
made a genuine commitment to putting safety first. From the top down, the importance of a safe
way of life must be at the forefront. With key elements such as hazard identification, training,
employee participation, understanding the risk matrix and learning how to prioritize hazards, the
JHA can be the cornerstone of any safety program and a key contributor to a culture of safety in
your organization.

Bibliography
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 2013, November 7. BLS News Release. Retrieved December
2013, from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/osh_11072013.pdf
_____. 2013, August 22. National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Retrieved September
2013, from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cfoi_08222013.pdf
_____. 2013, November 26. Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away
From Work, 2012. Retrieved 2014, from Bureau of Labor Statistics:
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/osh2_11262013.pdf
National Insistute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 2010. Workplace Safety &
Health Topics. Retrieved 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/engcontrols/
_____. (2013, October 7). Ergonomics. Retrieved 2014, from
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ergonomics/

Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). 2002. Job Hazard Analysis.


(https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3071.pdf)
Roughton, J. E., & Crutchfield, N. (2008). Job Hazard Analysis. Burlington: Elsevier Inc.