In reviewing your OSHA Log or your in-house incident reports, how many incidents arise out of circumstances unfamiliar to you or not previously reported? New injury and illness scenarios pop up all of the time. Let’s face it, hazards are not always easily recognized, even by professionals who do it for a living. We can use all the help we can get when it comes to hazard recognition.

One of our oldest techniques for hazard recognition is the Job Safety Analysis (JSA) also called Job Hazard Analysis. It’s reported to have originated in American industry during World War II, though some date its inception way back to the 1930s. Today, JSAs have at least been tried, if not totally adopted, by nearly every organization with a well-developed EHS program.

JSAs focus on the steps performed by employees where there is some possibility of a contact type injury, overexertion or contact with a health hazard. The core of the JSA technique — to examine job steps to find hazards — and the methodology almost always utilizes a supervisory person working to complete the JSA with one or more employees who are familiar with the job.

Table 1

Excellent training tool

A JSA has always been viewed as a training device as well as a hazard identification tool. Job steps are examined as they currently exist, with the objective of finding better and safer ways to do the job. Often a JSA results in developing an accompanying document, the “Safe Job Procedure.” But the bottom line is involving the employee who does the job in an exercise where he or she is forced to consider possibilities where injury or illness might result from the way the job is performed.

It’s important to remember that a JSA is not a one-time activity. JSAs must be constantly reviewed and updated as the job evolves. New hazards need to be identified and the employee doing the job can always benefit from a reminder about the existing hazard possibilities and how to avoid them. JSAs are an integral part of job training provided by the organization.

To save time, potential incidents and exposures identified in each of the job steps are usually clarified with a letter code. Some of these are:

SB – Struck By, CI – Caught In, SO – Strain / Overexertion, CB – Contacted By, CO – Caught On, E – Exposure To, SA – Struck Against, CB – Caught Between, O – Other Incident, CW – Contact With, F – Fall

This list is fairly representative, but different organizations use different codes.

A safety professional helps to establish a priority list for jobs to be analyzed. Supervisors must be trained in the proper use of the analysis and how to get the employees involved. Breaking a particular job into 10-15 job steps makes the process easier as it is then possible to focus on a fairly small segment of work activity.

Table 1 shows a segment of what might appear on a typical JSA. Note that while the left-hand column is a listing of job steps, the middle and right-hand columns are not lists; they are horizontally recorded entries in a left to right direction for each individual job step. Multiple entries in the center and right-hand columns are encouraged. Completing a JSA is a great opportunity for brainstorming, and the rules for proper brainstorming should be followed — there are no bad ideas.

More bang for the buck

If this is routinely how JSAs are completed, where are the opportunities for getting greater value?

One area where the JSA has seldom been exploited is in identifying the need for engineering hazard controls. If a supervisor prepares the JSA with the participation of the employees and the completed JSA finds its way into a file cabinet or a computer database, where is the opportunity for identifying engineering changes? Engineering seems to have been left out of the loop. If the JSA format is amended to add a column on “Recommended Engineering Changes,” more value could be obtained from this technique. For example, in entry #1 in the JSA segment shown, “Purchase a cherry-picker to do this job,” could be an engineering control measure worth considering.

So if a supervisor prepares the JSA with the employee doing the job and each “Recommended Engineering Change” is listed on the JSA, this forms a record of process or equipment changes for the engineering department to address. Putting these recommendations also on an attached tear-off form with copies that go to the safety professional and the production manager(s) creates a paper trail that can be audited later. Of course this entire process can be computerized with ease to achieve even greater cost efficiencies.