Step-by-Step: Starting a JHA

 In 2023, Tip of the Week


During the last couple of weeks, we have focused on the preparation of Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs). You may remember the OSHA definition of a JHA as “a technique that focuses on job tasks to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment.” This week, we are going to put some of what we learned into practice by discussing the steps you would take to complete a JHA.
The first step is to assess your jobsite and the activities or job that will be done at the site. Each location and the operation or tasks to be completed there can be a little different. While the tasks might be the same at each location, the potential exists for something to be unique to each site. Look around, then considering this list:
  • Review the general conditions at the site and where the job will be located. Check lighting and ventilation, what tools are needed, noise levels, assess whether the work is to be done where it could cause heat stress, and look for potential electrical hazards. Make a note of emergency exits and any existing fire protection.


  • Identify hazards that exist or may occur during each step in the job. Look for things like sharp edges on machinery, the absence of machine guards, or instances in which a worker must reach over a machine while it is in operation.


  • Note if there is any possibility that an employee could be caught in or between objects. Identify whether the employee is required to lift, push, or pull a heavy object that might cause injury. Look for conditions that could cause slips or falls, objects that might strike a worker, or that a worker might strike against.


  • Analyze the ways in which human error and reactions can contribute to the hazards of a particular job. Are the procedures cumbersome, confusing, or difficult that employees may resort to potentially hazardous shortcuts or become confused? Is equipment difficult to operate, tempting it to be used incorrectly or difficult to maintain so that it may not receive required maintenance? Could employees be subject to on-the-job stress? Note whether the workload may overtax their abilities.


Record what you found in the site assessment by listing the activities or tasks that will be done at the site, and the corresponding hazards on the JHA.
For each hazard found, identify ways to avoid, eliminate, reduce, minimize, or control the hazards. Using the potential for working in a warm environment that has the potential to cause heat stress as an example, which is likely for an upcoming job, considering that we are entering the warmer spring and summer months, let’s see what controls could be put into place. We could do the following:
  •  Avoid the hazard – if possible, move the work into an air-conditioned building.


  •  Substitute – consider rescheduling the work for early morning when it is cooler.


  • Reduce – if possible, increase ventilation with fans or misters to cool the area of the work. Schedule the work in shorter shifts, to allow employees to cool down while taking breaks.


  • Control – provide adequate water to ensure your employees are well hydrated. Prepare a plan to respond to heat related illnesses, including what to do in case of a medical emergency. If you are in California, follow your Heat Illness Prevention Plan procedures.

Then list the control or controls for the recorded hazards on the JHA. This can be done in columns, with corresponding numbers or letters to identify which controls are going to be provided for specific hazards. The JHA that SCM uses columns like in the below example.

In the JHA, include what equipment will be needed on site, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). List the training, including safety training, that is required. Keep in mind that some hiring organizations, such as general contractors, etc., might require you to show them proof that your employees have the training you say they have. For example, if any employees are going to be operating forklifts or other industrial trucks, you may need to show that the operators are currently certified to do so.

The last thing to do on a JHA is to have a supervisor sign the JHA as being complete – and then train the employees that will be working at the site as to what is on the JHA, and how they can work safely at that location, doing those tasks.

Please keep in mind that like all good plans, you can expect the unexpected. Plans can change, new challenges will arise, or any number of other deviations can happen. Then you will need to update the JHA to be the “new” version, keeping the employees at the site updated on the new JHA as well.

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