JHAs Prevent Accidents and OSHA Violations

A job hazard analysis (JHA) helps prevent accidents and OSHA violations by foreseeing and eliminating hazards. JHAs, also known as job safety analysis (JSA), may be used in different ways to analyze a project or a specific task. In this article, we will discuss the use of a JHA to prepare for a new construction project. We should probably call this a project hazard analysis.

Job hazard analysis is a system that can be used by safety professionals and managers to review job-specific methods and procedures to uncover potentially hazardous tasks. It is an effective procedure for studying a job to develop a site specific safety plan. With this simple procedure, potentially hazardous tasks can be identified that 1) could be overlooked; 2) may develop after work begins; and/or 3) result from changes in the available workforce.

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Managers interested in controlling hazards and preventing accidents should use JHAs to evaluate each project prior to starting work at the project. Every job entails generic and job-specific potential hazards that must be identified and controlled as the work proceeds. Until the safety and health hazards are known, proper solutions cannot be developed and implemented. In addition, it has come to our attention that some OSHA compliance officers are expecting to see and review JHAs during inspections of construction sites.

The principal benefits of JHAs are:

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  • Identify and control potentially hazardous tasks before the work begins.
  • Increase management awareness of potential safety hazards.
  • Ensure workers have the necessary job and safety training to perform the tasks prior to starting work.
  • Reduce worker injuries and illnesses.
  • Reduce workers compensation costs.
  • Increase worker productivity.
  • Improve compliance with OSHA and other applicable regulations.
  • Performing the Job Hazard Analysis
  • Start by forming a team of experienced managers, foremen and key employees to review the plans for the new job. Have them break each major task into three basic phases: 1) List the job-specific tasks; 2) Identify potential hazards associated with each task; and 3) Develop a plan to control the hazards.

Phase One: Each job-specific task is listed. Larger tasks may have to be divided into smaller components. For example, during Phase One a new job may be split into the following major tasks: traffic control, site preparation, staging of materials and equipment, trenching, pipe installation, confined space entry, backfill and compaction, wrap up, etc. Place all the tasks in an organized order. It is important to identify all tasks and to record enough information to describe each task.

Other recommended actions will depend on federal, state and local requirements all of which may vary due to the size and type of work zone that will be set up, number of lanes to be closed, normal posted speed limit, if the work will be performed on a highway or side road, and more.

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Phase Two: Each task should be examined to identify any existing or potential hazards that should be listed for each major task. When listing hazards don’t just list the obvious hazards, list every conceivable hazard that could reasonably cause an accident. Be sure to include health hazards, even though the harmful effect may not be immediate. For example, potential hazards associated with traffic control would include fast moving traffic, worker exposure to moving traffic as traffic control devices are set up, equipment related hazards, handling traffic control devices, etc.

Phase Three: Recommended actions or procedures to control or eliminate exposure should be identified. List recommended safe operating procedures and recommended personal protective equipment. State exactly what needs to be done to correct each hazard. Do not use general statements like “be careful.” For example, to slow down traffic a vehicle with flashing lights and warning signs will be used to protect employees as they place speed control signs and/or sign boards and traffic control devices. Workers will place cones from a work platform mounted on the back of a flatbed truck. The platform will be equipped with railings to prevent employees from falling off the platform. All workers will wear Class III high visibility clothing, gloves and hard hats.

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It’s important to realize projects may be similar but every project is unique. However, the team members should draw upon past JHAs and what they have learned from prior projects. The goal is to create a plan to ensure workers, motorists and pedestrians remain safe as tasks are completed.

The JHA should be properly documented so it can be used to create a job-specific safety plan, as well as inform and instruct jobsite personnel. The JHA should be reviewed by and available to all jobsite managers, foremen and supervisors to ensure they are aware of the potential hazards and the established procedures to eliminate or control exposure to the hazards. As the crews prepare to perform each task listed in the JHA, managers can use the JHA to remind and educate the crew members about the potential hazards associated with the task and how the hazards will be eliminated or controlled to protect the workers and the public.

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Job hazard analysis is a tool that can aid in preventing accidents by providing managers, foremen and supervisors with a plan to eliminate or control the hazards associated with each phase of the work. Preparing in advance is always more effective than dealing with unknown hazards on the run.
JHA can be used as a guide for preparing jobsite-specific safety plans, pre-job instructions and/or training. It can help managers develop and improve job methods, not just in the area of safety, but often in other areas like production and work quality.

JHA is an analytical technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship among the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment. The technique can be used to analyze and break down an entire job or just to analyze a specific job function such as using a chainsaw, setting up trench boxes, handling materials, etc. For more information about JHAs, visit the OSHA website www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3071.pdf.

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Ideally, you can use JHA to identify hazards, which will prompt managers to take steps to eliminate or reduce the hazards to an acceptable risk level. Put this inexpensive tool to work in your company. Job hazard analysis is a simple management tool. Most importantly, it works.

George Kennedy is NUCA Vice President of Safety.