JHA: What is a Job Hazard Analysis?

job hazard analysis

What is a Job Hazard Analysis?

A job hazard analysis is a technique that supervisors and occupational safety, and health professionals can use to identify potential hazards around a particular job task.

What Does JHA Stand For in Safety & Health? What Does AHA Stand For?

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is a field awash in acronyms – it can make things pretty confusing if you're starting.

JHA stands for Job Hazard Analysis in the safety and health field, while AHA stands for Activity Hazard Analysis. They're essentially different names for the same process. You may also see it called a Job Safety Analysis (JSA). Why have one acronym for a thing when you can have three?

OSHA uses job hazard analysis, so we'll mostly stick with that.

For What is a Job or Activity Hazard Analysis Used?

A job or activity hazard analysis is a tool that can be used in a few different ways. A JHA or AHA can be proactive as part of an extraordinary commitment to safety. On the flip side, JHAs can be used to investigate and resolve high injury or illness rates.

By observing the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the environment, you can spot potential problems with the status quo and find solutions to make the task safer.

If you have safety procedures in place, a JHA can be used to find out how well the procedures are being followed. If workers aren't complying, find out why – do they lack training? Does the personal protective equipment (PPE) get in the way? Do the safety procedures conflict with managerial demands in some way? The best way to get consistent compliance is to discover the cause of the problem and address it.

A job hazard analysis's real purpose is to bring safety concerns to light, but it can be a bit of a twofer for documentation. Since the JHA or AHA requires you to list out the steps for a task, it can help you develop or update training materials and other documents.

What you learn in a job hazard analysis can also be used in future training or accident investigation.

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What is a Job Hazard Analysis Form?

A job hazard analysis form gives you a way to keep the JHA process consistent. The JHA form, or AHA form, can be incredibly simple – basically a table with three columns (Steps, Hazards, and Controls).

It can also be a little fancier, like the JHA form cooked up by North Carolina State University's EHS department.

Where Can I Find Job Hazard Analysis Examples?

OSHA has several examples of a job hazard analysis in their JHA guide, but they're pretty rudimentary.

NC State keeps a great library of job hazard analysis examples for various industries.

How Do You Perform a Job Hazard Analysis?

The most important thing about performing a job hazard analysis is to involve workers at every stage of the process. An analysis based on official policy isn't going to change conditions on the ground. You have to start with what's really happening, and your frontline workers are the ones who can help you with that.

Determine Your Goals and Priorities

Before you begin the job hazard analysis, you'll want to review your organization's log of accidents, injuries, illnesses and near misses. You'll use that data to prioritize the tasks that you should focus your initial efforts on.

OSHA suggests giving priority to jobs and tasks with:

  • The highest injury or illness rates
  • A history of near-misses or close calls
  • The potential for severe or disabling injuries or illnesses, even if you've never had an incident
  • A potential for severe consequences from simple human error
  • Recent changes in procedure, as well as jobs that are new to your organization

You should also identify which safety regulations apply to that task and review the potential hazards and required safety measures.

Before you begin the actual JHA, talk to the workers. Explain the purpose of the job hazard analysis and what you're hoping to accomplish. Make sure they understand that you're not going to be evaluating their individual performance – you're looking to understand the task and its potential dangers.

Finally, ask them for their help in determining how things are actually done, what has gone wrong in the past, and what might make it safer.

Document the Job's Steps

Watch workers perform the tasks you've identified as high-risk and document the steps. You may want to videotape or photograph the task, and you may want to observe more than one person.

After you've finished observing and documenting, you should review the results with multiple workers. Ask them if you've missed anything or gotten some detail wrong. Ask if there are variations or circumstances where the task is done differently, and if so, repeat the process to capture all steps.

Identify All Hazards

Consider what could go wrong at each step of the process and the potential causes of these problems. How could defective equipment be a safety hazard, and how could the equipment get damaged?

Ask workers for their experience and input. What's gone wrong or almost gone wrong in the past?

Use references like safety regulations or lists of common hazards to ensure your list is thorough.

For each hazard, consider and note how likely it is to occur.

Identify Control Measures

For each hazard, write down all possible control measures. Again, safety regulations can be a helpful resource, as can your workers.

There are three kinds of control measures, and OSHA requires you to rely on them in a certain order.

Engineering controls should be used if at all possible to eliminate or reduce exposure. These controls are achieved changing the facility, equipment, process, or materials to enclose, isolate, or remove the source of danger.

If engineering controls can't completely eliminate the hazard, administrative controls should come into play. Administrative controls are safe work practices and operating procedures like limiting exposure time, providing training, or controlling the use of hazardous materials or tools.

If a hazard remains after engineering and administrative controls have been put in place, you can introduce personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE should be considered the last line of defense.

Implement Changes & Review

After the job hazard analysis, you'll implement the most sensible controls to correct unsafe conditions. Worker training will almost certainly be a part of this process so that workers understand the new equipment, procedures, and/or PPE.

You'll want to repeat job hazard analyses periodically, reviewing the safety of previously targeted tasks and expanding your efforts into tasks with less risk.

Where Can You Learn More About Job Hazard Analysis?

We offer several self-paced online courses on job hazard analysis that can guide you through the process. We're an OSHA-authorized and IACET-accredited online training provider.

Several safety and health programs mandate training on the process of job hazard analysis or activity hazard analysis, including NYC's SST training for construction and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' EM 385-1-1 training.

Looking for something more general? Check out our OSHA course, Hazard Recognition and Assessment Training, which will cover job hazard analysis and related skills like hazard recognition.

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