A job hazard analysis, often referred to as a job safety analysis or task hazard analysis, is an excellent way to systematically reduce the dangers within your worksites. OSHA also recommends them for the reduction of workplace injuries and illnesses, and well-documented JHAs could help you out during an audit.
JHAs are particularly useful for rooting out and mitigating the causes of falls — an all-too-common source of on-the-job injuries. One of OSHA’s “Fatal Four,” falls accounted for 364 out of 937 total deaths in the U.S. construction industry in 2015. Following are a few steps for using JHAs to mitigate fall hazards in your organization.
Examine Your Data
You have to pinpoint your problem areas to determine where to begin. Like any push to reduce hazards, fall mitigation should begin with a thorough examination of your company’s incident data. Review your company’s accidents and injuries throughout the last year to find when and where the most falls occur. Ideally, you’ll have an electronic reporting system that makes it easy to filter out falls (and near falls) from other incidents.
Next, use your data to determine which jobs, job sites, shifts and teams you’ll need to prioritize. Are most of your falls occurring at night or during the day? Are workers falling long distances at multi-story jobsites, or are they slipping on level surfaces? Which types of falls have resulted in the most severe injuries? Answering these questions will help you direct your efforts for maximum effect.
Review OSHA Standards
OSHA has many general fall protection guidelines. If a worker can fall onto dangerous machines, for instance, employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards. OSHA also requires employers to keep floors clean and dry, provide protective equipment and educate workers on their fall risks. To ensure compliance and make your JHA more efficient, review the guidelines that apply to your organization before you begin.
Involve Your Employees
You’ll need your workers’ help to conduct an efficient JHA. Make it clear to each team involved that you’re conducting the JHA for their safety, and that you’re studying their working methods — not scrutinizing their performance. Furthermore, interview employees to learn more about potential fall risks, gleaning information your records may not reveal.
Your incident data reveals which jobs involve the greatest fall risks, but to pinpoint problems, you’ll need to break those jobs into tasks. Observe your workers performing their duties, and list their actions one by one. A seemingly simple job, such as carrying supplies to and from a loading dock, might involve 10 or more discrete tasks: moving empty packages, unloading pallets and carrying boxes through a hallway, just to name a few.
Once you break jobs into tasks, it’s much easier to identify specific hazards and answer your initial questions. Why are so many workers falling as they’re unloading supplies, for instance? It might turn out that the hallways that lead to and from that loading dock are cluttered, or that inadequate cleaning procedures have left them slippery or littered with debris.
Once you’ve identified the hazards causing falls and near misses, you can create detailed checklists for future prevention. Are walkway surfaces dry and free of debris? Have your scaffolding systems been inspected recently? Are ramps, ladders and movable stairways provided where they’re needed? A thorough JHA will make it easy-to-create checklists that take these types of questions into account.
Checklists will help your employees verify their worksites are safe, but to make lasting improvements, you’ll have to correct unsafe conditions and processes. Using the information gathered with your JHA, implement procedural changes, purchase necessary protective equipment and re-train the teams whose methods will change.
Conduct Follow-up JHAs
Finally, to provide for lasting safety improvements and address new concerns, you’ll need to conduct follow-up JHAs on a regular basis. As your organization grows, as new job sites open up and as new workers are hired, there will be more potential hazards to address.
Do you need a better way to stay on top of the hazards at your jobsites? To learn how a comprehensive safety software suite can help, check out our latest eBook, Why You’re at Risk Without a Safety Management System.