Hazard communication Injury prevention

Job Hazard Analysis/Job Safety Analysis

Procedure goes by various names but reaps many benefits, proponents say

Job hazard analysis

Some people call it a “Job Hazard Analysis.” Others label it a Job Safety Analysis or Task Hazard Analysis.

And many safety professionals consider a Job Safety Analysis and Job Hazard Analysis the same thing, yet others argue that the two have differences.

“They can call it whatever they want, as long as they’re looking at the steps, brainstorming the hazards and talking about controls,” said JoAnn Dankert, senior safety consultant for the National Safety Council.

OSHA refers to the process as a Job Hazard Analysis, and defines it as a system that examines job tasks to pinpoint hazards before they occur. The system observes the connections between worker, task, tools and environment. After identifying hazards, the user takes steps to reduce or eliminate them.

JHAs/JSAs not only help prevent injuries and incidents, they also can aid in auditing, training and incident investigation, experts say.

The basics

According to NSC and other experts, a JHA/JSA involves three elements:

  1. Break the job task into steps.
  2. Identify possible hazards for each step.
  3. Establish strategies that will reduce or eliminate each hazard.

List no more than 10 steps for the task. To break down the job, follow these steps, according to the Maine Department of Labor:

  • Observe a worker performing the job. List each step in order.
  • Start each step with an action verb.
  • Avoid making the steps too general or detailed.
  • Consider videotaping or shooting photos of the task.
  • Go over the steps with workers who perform the task to ensure nothing was missed.

Then, pinpoint the hazards, which could be chemical, biological, ergonomic or environmental. To determine possible hazards, OSHA suggests asking:

  • What could go wrong?
  • What would be the consequences?
  • How could that occur?
  • What other factors contribute to the hazard?
  • What is the likelihood the hazard would occur?

An example

OSHA provides this example of a Job a Job Hazard Analysis form:

  • Jobsite: Metal shop
  • Analyst: “Joe Safety”
  • Date: Jan. 2, 2016

Task: An employee reaches into a metal box to the right of a machine to grab a 15-pound casting. He carries the casting to a grinding wheel. The worker grinds between 20 and 30 castings in an hour.

Hazard: The worker could drop the casting onto his foot, potentially injuring himself.


  • Remove castings from the box. Put them on a table adjacent to the grinder.
  • Wear steel-toed shoes that have arch protection.
  • Wear protective gloves for improved grip.
  • Use a device to grab castings.

Also ponder the following questions, according to NSC:

  • Could an object strike a worker?
  • Could a worker become caught by an object?
  • Could a worker slip, trip or fall?
  • Could pushing, pulling or other actions lead to a strain?
  • Could the eyes or other body parts become injured?

To prevent or fix hazards, NSC’s “Accident Prevention Manual: Administration & Programs” recommends the following:

  • Determine a different way to perform the task.
  • Change the conditions that result in the hazard.
  • Alter the procedure.
  • Lower the frequency of the task.

Engineering controls can eliminate a hazard by altering a machine or workplace to prevent exposure to a hazard, OSHA states. Examples include ventilation and machine guards. If engineering controls are impossible, administrative controls such as training or rotating jobs may be an option. For further protection, personal protective equipment can help.

A JHA/JSA can apply to any industry, although not every job has to undergo one, experts say. Don’t choose a job that is too general. Pick “the heavy hitters,” Dankert said. Maine DOL suggests evaluating the company’s history of incidents and near misses to select the highest-risk tasks.

To choose a job suitable for a JHA/JSA, OSHA recommends focusing on tasks with these characteristics:

  • High rate of injury or illness
  • Could cause “severe or disabling” injury or illness
  • New or recently changed
  • Complicated and require written instructions

Experts also recommend conducting a JHA/JSA for infrequently performed jobs, and Maine DOL suggests conducting one for jobs in which “close calls” and OSHA violations have occurred. Include the requirements of OSHA standards that apply to the task.

How often should you conduct a JHA/JSA? According to American Society of Safety Engineers President Thomas Cecich, some employers review them each year. And Dankert points out that they don’t last forever and should be reviewed every one or two years.

“When I do an audit – lots of times JSAs get posted in the area where the task is being performed – that’s the first thing I look for, the date,” Dankert said. “I start asking, ‘Who wrote this? How do you review this?’ OSHA does not require JSAs; that’s a best practice tool that somebody could use. From an auditor perspective, that can be an easy gimme for a finding.”

What’s in a name?

To Dankert, “Job Safety Analysis” is a misnomer. Jobs are broad. An individual is not going to use the process for a mechanic’s job, but he or she will use it for one of the mechanic’s tasks.

“If they made me Safety Queen for a day, I’d say we should call it a Task Hazard Analysis,” Dankert said. “It probably would have been better way back when if somebody had called it a Task Hazard Analysis because it’s specific to a task.”

Other names are Field-Level Risk Assessment and Pre-Task Analysis. Steven Greeley, director of Maine DOL’s workplace safety and health division, has seen construction companies use “daily activity sheets,” which he says are basically JHAs/JSAs. “Don’t get caught up in the name,” he said. “Whether it’s JSA or JHA, whatever works for your particular operation, go with it.”

However, Alberta, Canada-based safety professional Terry Penney finds a distinction between the two. JSAs, Penney said, consider only the following three elements: steps necessary to do the job, hazards associated with each step and safety measures for avoiding the hazards. He contends that JHAs add risk assessment to JSAs with an evaluation of risk for each step and determination of probability and severity.

“It is like comparing identical twins in a family,” Penney said. “To the untrained eye and general public, they look alike at work and, yes, they look the same in a lot of features. But to the family – or trained employee – they are totally different in a huge amount of features.”

Echoing Penney’s thoughts, Cecich said an emerging trend is to perform more of a risk assessment, then add a fourth step that asks: What is the worst that can happen, and what is the likelihood it will happen?

“We’re seeing that in larger, European-based companies. We’re seeing it in a lot of larger companies in the U.S.,” Cecich said. “In smaller, medium-sized companies, use of the traditional Job Hazard Analysis might be the appropriate way to go if you don’t have professionals that are versed, trained in conducting risk assessment. The Job Hazard Analysis probably is a simpler step. Most professionals would say, by all means, start out with the Job Hazard Analysis/Job Safety Analysis.”

A two-step approach

Consultant company NANA Development Corp., a member of the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council, uses a two-step approach to conducting both a Job Safety Analysis and a Job Hazard Analysis. Doing so allows users to spend enough time examining both job steps and hazards and aligning hazards with the job steps, said Robert Bulger, chief project officer for Colorado Springs, CO-based NANA Pacific. NANA’s clients include companies in oil and gas, mining, and hospitality, among other industries.

“We take our cues from big oil,” Bulger said. “We see big oil usually gives contractors and their teams an hour or so to really set these things down. It may start with higher-level engineers and move down to field workers. You may hear variants of this, but at some point, someone has got to look at the steps that have to be taken, have them outlined, and then the hazards.”

Bulger also prefers to outline the steps based on time so workers know what to do before and after lunches and breaks and can review instructions upon returning to work. JSAs/JHAs should be conducted before every new task, he said. Users can log site-specific hazards (such as flooding) and include information that would be needed in an emergency (such as the location of the nearest hospital).

“By using just a canned format, you’re forgetting about hazards unique to that site, so that’s why it’s important these things are gone over at the beginning of every shift,” Bulger said. “Certain things can be reused – industry-followed procedures – but the site-specific information has to be put in.”


Some critics claim JHAs/JSAs are a waste of time. Too much paperwork, a way for management to micromanage workers, and pointless – particularly if injuries have not occurred. But supporters argue the process can reap many benefits.

The findings can help prevent and eliminate hazards, reduce injuries and illnesses, lower workers’ compensation costs, and increase productivity, OSHA states.

Although they have fewer employees than large companies, smaller companies can at least identify hazards if they are not conducting extensive JHAs/JSAs, Greeley said.

“One of the drawbacks is [JHAs/JSAs are] very time-consuming to develop,” Greeley said. “So that’s why you need to prioritize and look at where we’re having injuries and the greatest risks and focus on those areas first.”

Make sure to involve workers in the process because they perform the work and will often better understand the task’s hazards, experts claim. The workers also can learn more about the hazards and appreciate why precautions are taken. Tell the workers you are reviewing the task rather than evaluating their performance.

JHAs/JSAs also can be used for training and incident investigation, experts say. “It’s really not one-and-done,” Dankert said. “Sometimes we forget, and we don’t squeeze everything out of it we absolutely can.”

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