We live in a world of acronym fatigue. This something we’re not immune to in the world of health and safety either. HSE, EHS, MOC, WCB and JSA. It seems that for health and safety professionals, not a day goes by without an acronym filled conversation.
Let’s focus on one of the acronyms that may sometimes get overlooks. JSA – or job safety analysis.
What exactly is job safety analysis and why is it important? Job safety analysis can actually be one of the best prevention tools you have as a health and safety pro.
A job safety analysis (JSA) is a systematic analysis of a specific job in a specific location. The analysis is designed to identify all the hazards that may exist and determine what controls can be implemented to mitigate those risks. By completing a JSA, your organization can take steps to ensure that you have properly planned how workers can do their jobs in a safe manner. When written down, logged and documented JSAs can also serve as evidence of due diligence for safety compliance purposes.
However not all JSAs are created equal and there are measures you can put in place to ensure that you are being as thorough and detailed as you need to be. To be most effective a JSA should be comprehensive in covering all aspects of a specific task. In some cases projects may even require several JSAs to ensure thorough coverage of all tasks. Likewise, JSAs are only as valuable as they are accessible and understood by your employees. So having the appropriate execution and implementation plan to go along with a JSA is also important.
In terms of JSA ownership, typically a project foreperson, supervisor or manager will have the most comprehensive view of tasks involved in a job or project.
So now that we have a general understanding of what goes into a JSA what are some steps to take to perform one?
1. Write out all the job steps
Once you’ve decided on creating your JSA the first thing you’ll need to do is to break whatever work is being analyzed down into manageable steps. These steps should include everything specific to the job, but also any activities associated with the work area and environment as well. If the work area changes then there may be changes to the task steps accordingly.
2. Identify the potential hazards at each step
Once all the job steps have been identified, the next step is to identify and make note of all the potential hazards that may exist at each step. The exercise here is to think about all the possible things that could go wrong, or go awry at each step. It’s important to consider not only the job steps themselves but the circumstances surrounding each step, including things like equipment, tools, and even the environment.
This is an area where historical data can be helpful as well. Causes of past injuries, equipment documentation and past incidents can all help to inform you during this hazard analysis.
3. Determine controls for each hazard
Once the hazards have been documented. The controls that can be put into place to mitigate the hazard risks is the next item to document as part of your JSA. These controls can include procedures, equipment, education, or other factors that can help to eliminate or mitigate the likelihood of these hazards from occurring.
4. Using the right tools
Like many process driven tasks, JSAs have had a tendency to reside in notebooks and binders scattered, or perhaps buried in organizational filing cabinets. Today, there are a number of web based software tools that render not only the creation, but the maintenance and distribution of knowledge from a job safety analysis far easier. By leveraging technology to create a centralized and accessible JSA library companies can increase JSA awareness, and at the same time have the ongoing benefits of easier regulations reporting and training for new hires.
5. Put the findings into action
After gathering information about the job tasks, hazards and controls, you’ll be armed with a fairly comprehensive JSA. This final step is the most important. Sharing this information with your team and your coworkers and putting the findings into action.
The JSA process is straightforward but incredibly valuable. The safest work environments are ones where safety is thought of as an ongoing and proactive exercise. Regular JSA can be a key component of creating that type of safety culture.