The National Safety Council estimates that an on-the-job fatal accident occurs every 90 minutes while, an on-the-job injury requiring professional medical treatment happens every 5.2 seconds. Work place injuries and fatalities cost the U.S. economy approximately $122.6 billion dollars each year. Furthermore, according to physical therapist and industrial consultant, H. Duane Saunders, in the United States, 97 percent of money spent on medical care is directed towards the treatment of illnesses, injuries and disabilities; only 3 percent is actually spent on prevention. Therefore, knowing how to effectively conduct a job safety analysis can reduce this unnecessary expense to companies.

What is a Job Safety Analysis?

A Job Safety Analysis (JSA), also known as a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), is a technique that examines all aspects of a specific job-related task in order to identify hazards before they cause accidents. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a JSA must focus on the relationship between the worker, the task and the tools, as well as the work environment. After hazards have been identified, steps are taken to eliminate or reduce hazards to an acceptable risk level.

Benefits of Conducting a Job Safety Analysis

Health and safety compliance in the workplace can add value to a business, as well as the lives of its workers. In addition, helping employers prevent/reduce workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, JSAs can be beneficial to businesses for the following reasons:

  • JSAs help establish proper job procedures
  • Ensure that all employees are properly trained
  • Eliminate and prevent hazards in the workplace
  • Reduce workers’ compensation costs
  • Increase worker productivity
  • Assist with regulatory compliance
  • Maintain a healthier workforce
  • Allow employees to feel positive about their jobs

When Should a Job Safety Analysis Be Conducted?

A job safety analysis should be conducted for all job roles. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that priority be given to the following job types:

  • Jobs with the highest injury, illness and fatality rates
  • Jobs with the potential to cause severe or disabling injuries or illness, even if there is no history of previous accidents
  • Jobs where one simple human error can lead to a severe accident or injury
  • Jobs that are new to the company's operations or have undergone changes in processes and procedures
  • Jobs complex enough to require written instructions

How to Effectively Conduct a Job Safety Analysis

  1. Involve employees. Discuss what you are going to do and why. Be sure to emphasize that you are evaluating the job task and not employee performance. Involving employees will provide you with valuable knowledge about the job task, as well as ensure a quality analysis
  2. Review accident history. Review the company’s accident history with your employees. This includes the company's injury, illness, and near miss history. The information will help you to determine whether or not existing hazard control measures (if any) are adequate, and to determine which jobs pose the highest risk to your workers
  3. Conduct a preliminary job review. Discuss with your employees the hazards that they know exist in their current job task and work environment. Brainstorm with them ideas to eliminate or control those hazards. Additionally, identify the OSHA standards that apply to that job role and be sure to incorporate these requirements into your job safety analysis
  4. Set priorities. List, rank, and set priorities for hazardous jobs. Hazardous jobs will include all those job types specified by OSHA listed above
  5. Outline the steps or tasks. Every job can be broken down into steps. Watch the employee perform each step when conducting your job safety analysis. Get input from employees who perform the same job tasks. Also, it is important that you review the job steps with the employee to ensure that nothing was omitted.

The Job Safety Analysis Process

1. Identify the hazards in each step of the job task

To do this, consider the following:

  • What could go wrong?
  • How could it happen?
  • What are other contributing factors?
  • What are the consequences?
  • How likely is it that the hazard will occur?

2. Review the list of hazards identified with the employees responsible for carrying out the job

You should:

  • Discuss what can be done to eliminate or reduce these hazards with the affected employees.

3. Correct the unsafe conditions and processes by implementing methods of hazard control

These may include:

  • Changes to equipment or engineering controls
  • Improvement to the work environment, such as better lighting and ventilation
  • Administrative controls or changes to the work processes and how the task is done
  • Changes in the use and type of personal protective equipment, e.g. gloves, hearing protection, boots, etc.
  • Retraining all employees effected by the new changes and ensure that they clearly understand the changes made

For more information on hazard control methods and selecting the appropriate personal protective equipment, check out: The Hierarchy of Hazard Control and 6 Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines (PPE) Every Employee Should Know.

4. Review the job safety analysis

This should be done:

  • Periodically as you may discover hazards that you may have previously missed
  • When the job task or process has changed
  • When injuries or near misses occur while performing the job task

5. Utilize the information obtained from conducting the job safety analysis

This information can be useful for:

To learn more about conducting accident investigations, check out: 7 Critical Steps You Must Take When Investigating and Reporting Accidents.

Before Starting a Job Safety Analysis

For a job safety analysis to be effective, employers must demonstrate its commitment to safety and health by correcting any uncontrolled hazards identified. If this is not done, productivity and profits will be negatively impacted. Further, employees may hesitate to go to their supervisors when dangerous conditions arise. As such, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration suggest that when conducting a job safety analysis, be sure to consult the OSHA standards relevant to your industry. Not only will this ensure that the necessary requirements will be incorporated in to the job safety analysis, it will also facilitate the achievement of maximum benefits by both employers and their employees.