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Job Safety Analysis: A Fundamental Tool for Safety

Understanding Job Safety Analysis

A JSA is a process for identifying hazards associated with a job or task and controlling or eliminating hazards before an injury or illness occurs. A JSA tries to identify what could happen, the potential consequences, the source of all hazards (all contributing factors), and the probability an injury will occur. The result of this analysis is usually a step-by-step procedure that provides safer and more efficient work practices. The standard operating procedure becomes a safe operating procedure or SOP=SOP. In addition to reduced injury and illness rates, other benefits of conducting JSAs include reduced absenteeism, reduced workers’ compensation costs, increased productivity, morale, and a clear training tool for employees.

Where to begin and which tasks should be examined

Often managers do not clearly understand the need for a formal identification process and will limit JSAs to those job classifications and tasks with the most accidents and injuries. Doing so can result in employees still being exposed to serious injury or possibly death.

In an ideal world, all tasks would be reviewed. While this is not a realistic short-term goal, it can become a practical long-term goal. The best place to start is by assembling a team of management and employees that can help identify job classifications, tasks, or environments and isolate where the risk of injury or illness is the greatest. Including employees in the selection and analysis process ensures a more thorough understanding of the jobs and processes and increases the value of the analysis.

Determine what jobs have a high risk or serious potential for injury or illness or the potential for exposure to high-risk factors. Examples include: working on electrical systems (shock and burns) or heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems (crush injuries, shock, chemical exposures).

Once the job classifications/occupations have been identified, break down the job by tasks. Focus on the tasks that present the highest risk of injury, such as working on a tall ladder or handling a potentially aggressive patient. JSAs should be conducted on these high-risk tasks first.

Next, evaluate the job classifications/occupations that have a high frequency of injuries or illnesses for the agency. Review the agency’s loss history and identify the claims that have occurred during a predetermined period. A good rule of thumb is to review three fiscal years worth of injury data. Workers’ compensation injury reports, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Log of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300 Log), and internal accident investigation reports are good sources for this information. Consider those job classifications/occupations with the most severity (dollars spent) first and then frequency (number of injuries).

“Near misses” are just as important as those incidents that resulted in injury or illness. In some cases whether the employee is injured or not is a matter of chance. The same hazard and the same type of event can have very different results. For instance, two people slip and fall on the same slippery spot; one gets up unhurt and the other breaks a wrist. Unfortunately, the attention an incident gets is often proportional to the severity of the result. Therefore, a lack of past injuries has little relation to the potential for future ones.

The easiest job classification or task to identify for conducting a JSA is when a new job or task is created or when there has been a significant change, such as a new location, new equipment, different materials, or new work station set-up. Before beginning such a task, a JSA should be performed to ensure that no uncontrolled hazards or exposures exist.

Responsibility for conducting a JSA

The agency safety officer or coordinator should lead the process, accompanied by the supervisor or manager for the area in which the task takes place. Most importantly, solicit the help of employees who are responsible for routinely performing this activity. It is essential to the accuracy of the analysis that everyone involved is clearly aware of its purpose and that it is not intended to “catch” anyone doing something wrong.

How to perform a JSA

First, discuss the job and identify any known hazards in the job or work environment. At this point, if an immediate danger to life or health is noted, take immediate action. Do not wait to complete the JSA.

Next, observe an employee performing the task in the environment in which it normally takes place. Identify each step necessary to complete the task, using basic descriptions to avoid too much detail. Too much detail can result in a lengthy and inefficient analysis. It may also be desirable to get input from other employees about these steps. This might reveal some “variations” to the process that pose additional or different hazards, or in some cases, a better method of completing the task.

Organize these steps in a consistent way that identifies the task and lists the steps needed for completion, and includes a description of hazards that may be associated with each step. For example, the step may be described as, “Lifted the plank from the lumber stack to the table saw.” An associated hazard might be, “The employee could drop the plank on his foot.” Another might be, “Bending to reach the plank could result in a back strain.” When determining corrective actions, each hazard should be addressed separately.

The description of the hazard situation should include the following:

  • The environment (where the hazard occurs)
  • The exposure (to whom)
  • The trigger (what is the cause)
  • The potential result (consequences)
  • Other related factors1


In the woodworking shop (environment), while lifting a plank onto the table saw (trigger), the employee drops the plank onto his foot (exposure), smashing his big toe (consequence).

There are often other factors that may contribute to the hazard. For instance, in this case, the employee may be wearing soft-top shoes (no safety shoe policy).

Potential hazards may be physical or health related. Hazards to look for may include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical
    • Impact
    • Penetration
    • Compression (roll-over)
    • Temperature extremes (heat and cold)
  • Health
    • High Noise
    • Chemical
    • Harmful Dust
    • Biologic
    • Radioactivity2

Hazard or procedural controls

Once the hazards are identified, ways to eliminate or control the hazards should be determined. Any existing controls should also be evaluated. It is possible that there are better forms of control available that were not available when the task was first developed.

Of course, the best action would be to eliminate the job task itself. This is rarely possible, so the next best action is to determine if the hazard can be eliminated through engineering controls.

Engineering controls involve physically changing the work environment or equipment to eliminate exposure to the hazards. Some examples include:

  • Initial design specifications
  • Ventilation
  • Substitution of less harmful material
  • Enclosure of the process
  • Isolation of the process
  • Changing the process3

If engineering controls are not possible or do not provide an acceptable level of protection for employees, consider work practice or administrative controls. Administrative controls are those in which the job or task itself is changed to eliminate or control the hazards. Examples of administrative control include, but are not limited to:

  • Job rotation of workers (limiting the time of exposure)
  • Wet methods (dust and heat reduction)
  • Written procedures and training
  • Alarms
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Housekeeping and maintenance4

If neither engineering nor administrative controls are possible or sufficient, the agency should require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE can be used to supplement engineering or administrative controls to bring them to acceptable levels. Also, PPE can be used while engineering controls are being put in place. OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.132 through 29 CFR 1910.138 and 29 CFR 1910.95 provide guidance for the selection and use of various forms of PPE. Also, check for any OSHA standards or requirements for specific hazards or exposures, such as chemicals. It is possible that multiple controls will be necessary to completely eliminate or control all of the hazards to which employees are exposed.

To be effective, the hazard controls determined by the JSAs must be integrated into the tasks. This will likely require rewriting procedures for completing these tasks to include these remedies. Retraining of current employees may be necessary. In some cases, awareness training itself can act as a supplement to controls. However, this is limited in effectiveness and periodic refresher training is essential.

As with all such programs, the final step is to revisit the tasks after the recommended controls are put in place and periodically thereafter, to ensure that they are achieving the desired results. Further revisions or adjustments may be necessary. When all hazards are either eliminated or sufficiently controlled, the goal of the JSA process is achieved, SOP=SOP.

1 U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Job Hazard Analysis.” Retrieved January 5, 2006, at

2 U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Personal Protective Equipment.” Retrieved January 5, 2006, at

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.


U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2000). Job Hazard Analysis. Retrieved January 5, 2006, from

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2003). Personal Protective Equipment. Retrieved January 5, 2006, from

Maricopa County, Arizona Risk Management. (2005, March 16). Job Safety Analysis (JSA). Retrieved January 4, 2006, from

Montana Department of Labor and Industry. (n.d.). Job Safety Analysis, Identification of Hazards. Retrieved January 4, 2006, from

U.S. Department of the Interior, Materials Management Service. (2002, August 22). Job Safety Analysis (JSA). Retrieved January 4, 2006, from

University of California, Office of Environment, Health & Safety: Fact Sheet. (2003, October 30). Job Safety Analysis. Retrieved January 5, 2006, from

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