How to Perform a Job Hazard Analysis

Is there danger lurking in your workplace? Before you say no, answer another question: When did you last conduct a job hazard analysis? Though some industries (i.e. manufacturing) are statistically at a higher risk of injury than their deskbound counterparts, all employers can benefit from conducting a job hazards analysis.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) defines a job hazards analysis as a “technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur.”

Conducting a job hazard analysis is fairly easy to conduct

The first step is to determine where to begin. Data from previous injuries and incidents can help employers pin down which jobs should be analyzed first. Any tasks that have resulted in “near miss” injuries should also be considered top priority.

Next, announce the plan to employees and solicit their input

“It is very important to involve your employees in the hazard analysis process,” according to an OSHA report. “They have a unique understanding of the job, and this knowledge is invaluable for finding hazards. Involving employees will help minimize oversights, ensure a quality analysis, and get workers to ‘buy in’ to the solutions because they will share ownership in their safety and health program.
“Talk with employees about hazards they encounter as they do their jobs and brainstorm ways to eliminate the associated risks.

OSHA suggests employers answer these questions when performing the analysis:

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

Don’t just examine the work area, analyze the employee’s actions as they perform their job as hazards typically exist where several functions combine and become dangerous. It’s important to document your findings and note:

  • Where it is happening (environment)
  • Who or what it is happening to (exposure)
  • What precipitates the hazard (trigger)
  • The outcome that would occur should it happen(consequence)
  • Any other contributing factors

OSHA offers a variety of industry-specific forms on their website to assist business owners as they conduct a job hazards analysis.

“Recently companies have been focused on getting out of the financial slump and aren’t paying attention to safety and security,” says Philip Farina, a board certified security expert and CEO of Farina and Associates Ltd.Ignoring safety and eliminating planning such as job hazards analyses may seem wise at the time but can destroy a small business, he warns.

“Any time you have an incident there is loss. It may be loss of life, loss of structure, loss of assets, brand, reputation, or even your business,” Farina says.

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