Job hazard analysis (JHA) is a technique for identifying and addressing hazards created by the jobs your employees do every day. You focus on one job at a time, breaking it down into its component steps and identifying all the hazards associated with each step.

Don’t be intimidated by JHAs. The process can seem complicated, but we’ve broken it down into a step-by-step process you can follow easily.

Step 1: Select the job to be analyzed

You don’t have to conduct JHAs for all your jobs at once. Start small by choosing just one job, then build your collection from there. When choosing a job to analyze, look at all the jobs your employees do regularly and consider prioritizing those with:

  • High injury rates
  • The potential to cause severe injuries
  • Complex operations that require written instructions

Still not sure where to start? When in doubt, focus on jobs that involve OSHA’s top four construction hazards.

Step 2: Break down the job into individual tasks

There are several ways to identify the small tasks that make up a job, but observation is often the best method. Watch the job from start to finish and jot down each individual task that is completed along the way. Once you’ve got a step-by-step breakdown, verify your list with employees who do the job. Does it seem accurate? Are there situations where they deviate from the normal process? Note any exceptions.

Pro tip: Recording a video of the job in action is useful as you create and verify your task list, and for later reference.

Step 3: Identify the hazards of each step

For each distinct task you have listed, consider the hazards it creates for employees and property. What could go wrong? What losses have occurred in the past? Ask employees to contribute their ideas – even if they haven’t been injured doing the job, they have likely experienced a mishap or a near-miss. Describe the hazards and the likely results in your JHA documentation.

For each distinct task you have listed, consider the hazards it creates for employees and property. What could go wrong? What losses have occurred in the past? Ask employees to contribute their ideas – even if they haven’t been injured doing the job, they have likely experienced a mishap or a near-miss. Describe the hazards and the likely results in your JHA documentation.

Pro tip: Do your best to limit your JHA to a single page. Shorter documents are easier to manage and force you to be more concise.

Step 4: Address the identified hazards

Once you identified the hazards of each task, you can look at ways to address them. We recommend following the hierarchy of hazard control, which can guide you to the most effective controls first.

Step 5: Periodically revisit your JHAs

In general, most of the work of JHAs is done on the front end when you initially put them together. But it’s important to keep them fresh with updates whenever you change a process or incorporate new equipment. To make sure you don’t miss a needed update, set up a schedule for JHA reviews – quarterly, bi-annually or annually depending on your needs.

How else can I use my JHAs?

JHAs and the process of creating them are obviously great for making your work safer, but don’t miss out on these additional benefits:

  • Increased efficiency: As you document your jobs and compare your observations with employees, don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way. Are all the steps necessary? Is there a better way to get the job done? Ask your employees how they would make the job better/faster/easier/cost-effective and consider incorporating their ideas into the process.
  • Better training: JHAs make great training aids for employees learning new processes, ensuring consistency.
  • Faster response to owners: Avoid last-minute running around when an owner or general contractor requests documentation for a job. Having a portfolio of JHAs ready upon request shows that you’re prepared and thinking ahead.
  • Integrated safety: Completed JHAs are a useful resource for pre-task planning meetings and can be integrated into site-specific safety plans.