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What is a hazard?


A hazard is the potential for harm. In practical terms, a hazard often is associated with a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, can result in an injury or illness. See a list below of common hazards and descriptions. Identifying hazards and eliminating or controlling them as early as possible will help prevent injuries and illnesses.

What is a job hazard analysis?


A job hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur. It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Ideally, after you identify uncontrolled hazards, you will take steps to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable risk level.

Why is job hazard analysis important?

Many workers are injured and killed at the workplace every day in the United States. Safety and health can add value to your business, your job, and your life. You can help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by looking at your workplace operations, establishing proper job procedures, and ensuring that all employees are trained properly. One of the best ways to determine and establish proper work procedures is to conduct a job hazard analysis. A job hazard analysis is one component of the larger commitment of a safety and health management system. (See JSEAsy premium for information on safety and health management systems.)

What is the value of a job hazard analysis?

Supervisors can use the findings of a job hazard analysis to eliminate and prevent hazards in their workplaces. This is likely to result in fewer worker injuries and illnesses; safer, more effective work methods; reduced workers' compensation costs; and increased worker productivity. The analysis also can be a valuable tool for training new employees in the steps required to perform their jobs safely. For a job hazard analysis to be effective, management must demonstrate its commitment to safety and health and follow through to correct any uncontrolled hazards identified. Otherwise, management will lose credibility and employees may hesitate to go to management when dangerous conditions threaten them.

What jobs are appropriate for a job hazard analysis?

A job hazard analysis can be conducted on many jobs in your workplace. Priority should go to the following types of jobs:

  • Jobs with the highest injury or illness rates;
  • Jobs with the potential to cause severe or disabling injuries or illness, even if there is no history of previous accidents;
  • Jobs in which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury;
  • Jobs that are new to your operation or have undergone changes in processes and procedures; and
  • Jobs complex enough to require written instructions.

Where do I begin?

Involve your employees.

It is very important to involve your employees in the hazard analysis process. 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.

Review your accident history.

Review with your employees your worksite's history of accidents and occupational illnesses that needed treatment, losses that required repair or replacement, and any "near misses" -- events in which an accident or loss did not occur, but could have. These events are indicators that the existing hazard controls (if any) may not be adequate and deserve more scrutiny.

Conduct a preliminary job review.

Discuss with your employees the hazards they know exist in their current work and surroundings. Brainstorm with them for ideas to eliminate or control those hazards. If any hazards exist that pose an immediate danger to an employee's life or health, take immediate action to protect the worker. Any problems that can be corrected easily should be corrected as soon as possible. Do not wait to complete your job hazard analysis. This will demonstrate your commitment to safety and health and enable you to focus on the hazards and jobs that need more study because of their complexity. For those hazards determined to present unacceptable risks, evaluate types of hazard controls. More information about hazard controls is found in Appendix 1.

List, rank, and set priorities for hazardous jobs.

List jobs with hazards that present unacceptable risks, based on those most likely to occur and with the most severe consequences. These jobs should be your first priority for analysis.

 Outline the steps or tasks.

Nearly every job can be broken down into job tasks or steps. When beginning a job hazard analysis, watch the employee perform the job and list each step as the worker takes it. Be sure to record enough information to describe each job action without getting overly detailed. Avoid making the breakdown of steps so detailed that it becomes unnecessarily long or so broad that it does not include basic steps. You may find it valuable to get input from other workers who have performed the same job. Later, review the job steps with the employee to make sure you have not omitted something. Point out that you are evaluating the job itself, not the employee's job performance. Include the employee in all phases of the analysis -- from reviewing the job steps and procedures to discussing uncontrolled hazards and recommended solutions. Sometimes, in conducting a job hazard analysis, it may be helpful to photograph or videotape the worker performing the job. These visual records can be handy references when doing a more detailed analysis of the work.

How do I identify workplace hazards?

A job hazard analysis is an exercise in detective work. Your goal is to discover the following:

  • 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?

To make your job hazard analysis useful, document the answers to these questions in a consistent manner. Describing a hazard in this way helps to ensure that your efforts to eliminate the hazard and implement hazard controls help target the most important contributors to the hazard. Good hazard scenarios describe:

  • 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), and
  • Any other contributing factors.

A sample form found in Appendix 3 helps you organize your information to provide these details. Rarely is a hazard a simple case of one singular cause resulting in one singular effect. More frequently, many contributing factors tend to line up in a certain way to create the hazard. Here is an example of a hazard scenario:

In the metal shop (environment), while clearing a snag (trigger), a worker's hand (exposure) comes into contact with a rotating pulley. It pulls his hand into the machine and severs his fingers (consequences) quickly.

To perform a job hazard analysis, you would ask:

  • What can go wrong?
    The worker's hand could come into contact with a rotating object that "catches" it and pulls it into the machine.

  • What are the consequences?
    The worker could receive a severe injury and lose fingers and hands.

    How could it happen?
    T
    he accident could happen as a result of the worker trying to clear a snag during operations or as part of a maintenance activity while the pulley is operating. Obviously, this hazard scenario could not occur if the pulley is not rotating.

  • What are other contributing factors?
    This hazard occurs very quickly. It does not give the worker much opportunity to recover or prevent it once his hand comes into contact with the pulley. This is an important factor, because it helps you determine the severity and likelihood of an accident when selecting appropriate hazard controls. Unfortunately, experience has shown that training is not very effective in hazard control when triggering events happen quickly because humans can react only so quickly.

  • How likely is it that the hazard will occur?
    This determination requires some judgment. If there have been "near-misses" or actual cases, then the likelihood of a recurrence would be considered high. If the pulley is exposed and easily accessible, that also is a consideration. In the example, the likelihood that the hazard will occur is high because there is no guard preventing contact, and the operation is performed while the machine is running. By following the steps in this example, you can organize your hazard analysis activities.

Hazard Control Measures Information obtained from a job hazard analysis is useless unless hazard control measures recommended in the analysis are incorporated into the tasks. Managers should recognize that not all hazard controls are equal. Some are more effective than others at reducing the risk. The order of precedence and effectiveness of hazard control is the following:

  1. Engineering controls.
  2. Administrative controls.
  3. Personal protective equipment.
  4. Engineering controls include the following:
  • Elimination/minimization of the hazard -- Designing the facility, equipment, or process to remove the hazard, or substituting processes, equipment, materials, or other factors to lessen the hazard;
  • Enclosure of the hazard using enclosed cabs, enclosures for noisy equipment, or other means;
  • Isolation of the hazard with interlocks, machine guards, blast shields, welding curtains, or other means; and
  • Removal or redirection of the hazard such as with local and exhaust ventilation.

Administrative controls include the following:

  • Written operating procedures, work permits, and safe work practices;
  • Exposure time limitations (used most commonly to control temperature extremes and ergonomic hazards);
  • Monitoring the use of highly hazardous materials;
  • Alarms, signs, and warnings;
  • Buddy system; and
  • Training.

Personal Protective Equipment -- such as respirators, hearing protection, protective clothing, safety glasses, and hardhats -- is acceptable as a control method in the following circumstances:

  • When engineering controls are not feasible or do not totally eliminate the hazard;
  • While engineering controls are being developed;
  • When safe work practices do not provide sufficient additional protection; and
  • During emergencies when engineering controls may not be feasible.

Use of one hazard control method over another higher in the control precedence may be appropriate for providing interim protection until the hazard is abated permanently. In reality, if the hazard cannot be eliminated entirely, the adopted control measures will likely be a combination of all three items instituted simultaneously.

Common Hazards and Descriptions

Hazards

Hazard Descriptions

Chemical (Toxic)

A chemical that exposes a person by absorption through the skin, inhalation, or through the bloodstream that causes illness, disease, or death. The amount of chemical exposure is critical in determining hazardous effects. Check Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and/or OSHA 1910.1000 for chemical hazard information.

Chemical (Flammable)

A chemical that, when exposed to a heat ignition source, results in combustion. Typically, the lower a chemical's flash point and boiling point, the more flammable the chemical. Check MSDS for flammability information.

Chemical (Corrosive)

A chemical that, when it comes into contact with skin, metal, or other materials, damages the materials. Acids and bases are examples of corrosives.

Explosion (Chemical Reaction)

Self explanatory.

Explosion (Over Pressurization)

Sudden and violent release of a large amount of gas/energy due to a significant pressure difference such as rupture in a boiler or compressed gas cylinder.

Electrical (Shock/Short Circuit)

Contact with exposed conductors or a device that is incorrectly or inadvertently grounded, such as when a metal ladder comes into contact with power lines. 60Hz alternating current (common house current) is very dangerous because it can stop the heart.

Electrical (Fire)

Use of electrical power that results in electrical overheating or arcing to the point of combustion or ignition of flammables, or electrical component damage.

Electrical (Static/ESD)

The moving or rubbing of wool, nylon, other synthetic fibers, and even flowing liquids can generate static electricity. This creates an excess or deficiency of electrons on the surface of material that discharges (spark) to the ground resulting in the ignition of flammables or damage to electronics or the body's nervous system.

Electrical (Loss of Power)

Safety-critical equipment failure as a result of loss of power.

Ergonomics (Strain)

Damage of tissue due to over exertion (strains and sprains) or repetitive motion.

Ergonomics (Human Error)

A system design, procedure, or equipment that is error-provocative. (A switch goes up to turn something off).

Excavation (Collapse)

Soil collapse in a trench or excavation as a result of improper or inadequate shoring. Soil type is critical in determining the hazard likelihood.

Fall (Slip, Trip)

Conditions that result in falls (impacts) from height or traditional walking surfaces (such as slippery floors, poor housekeeping, uneven walking surfaces, exposed ledges, etc.)

Fire/Heat

Temperatures that can cause burns to the skin or damage to other organs. Fires require a heat source, fuel, and oxygen.

Mechanical/Vibration (Chaffing/Fatigue)

Vibration that can cause damage to nerve endings, or material fatigue that results in a safety-critical failure. (Examples are abraded slings and ropes, weakened hoses and belts.)

Mechanical Failure

Self explanatory; typically occurs when devices exceed designed capacity or are inadequately maintained.

Mechanical

Skin, muscle, or body part exposed to crushing, caught-between, cutting, tearing, shearing items or equipment.

Noise

Noise levels (>85 dBA 8 hr TWA) that result in hearing damage or inability to communicate safety-critical information.

Radiation (Ionizing)

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, neutral particles, and X-rays that cause injury (tissue damage) by ionization of cellular components.

Radiation (Non-Ionizing)

Ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and microwaves that cause injury to tissue by thermal or photochemical means.

Struck By (Mass Acceleration)

Accelerated mass that strikes the body causing injury or death. (Examples are falling objects and projectiles.)

Struck Against

Injury to a body part as a result of coming into contact of a surface in which action was initiated by the person. (An example is when a screwdriver slips.)

Temperature Extreme (Heat/Cold)

Temperatures that result in heat stress, exhaustion, or metabolic slow down such as hypothermia.

Visibility

Lack of lighting or obstructed vision that results in an error or other hazard.

Weather Phenomena (Snow/Rain/Wind/Ice)

Self explanatory.

 

 

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