The process of breaking down a job into its constituent steps, listing the hazards associated with those steps and developing procedures to reduce those hazards appears to be accepted theoretically in the SH&E profession more than it is practiced. Job safety analysis (JSA), sometimes called job hazard analysis (JHA), has long been a safety program building block. Is the process still useful as a risk control technique?

What Is JSA?

JSA refers to both the analytical process of developing safer job procedures and to the document that is developed as a result of the analysis (NSC, 2009, p. 240). The most influential source for its format has been National Safety Council's (NSC) three-column form (Figure 1, p. 50). This form first appeared (albeit with different headings) in the fifth edition of Accident Prevention Manual for Industrial Operations (NSC, 1964, p. 10), although a "job breakdown" technique was described in the First edition (NSC, 1946, pp. 495–496) that related a job's "sequence of events" or "main steps" to its "safety factors" or "key points."

ASSE's Dictionary of Terms Used in the Safety Profession makes no distinction between JSA and JHA (Lack, 2001, p. 58). This article uses JSA because that term has been in use longer and appears to be in current usage no less than JHA.

The various purposes of JSA are reflected in the chapters in which different editions of the Accident Prevention Manual (APM) have included the subjects: safety training (NSC, 1964, p. 1), hazard control (NSC, 1974, p. 104) and hazard identification (NSC, 2009, p. 229). Other uses include incident investigation employee involvement and supervisory education (Swartz, 2001, p. 2). Bird and Germain (1990) summarize the benefits of JSA-derived procedures done correctly as "among the most valuable tools imaginable for such important activities as job orientation, task instruction, task observation, group meetings, employee coaching, accident/incident investigation, skill training" (p. 148).

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