To identify workplace hazardous conditions, unsafe behaviors, and safety management system failures, we should conduct surveys and interviews, safety inspections, and audits. But merely identifying these defects is not good enough. We need to get beyond the mere identification of hazards: We need to determine how those defects impact overall safety in the workplace. To do that we must conduct an analysis: But, what is it?
When conducting analysis, we closely examine each part of a policy, program, plan, process, procedure or task to determine its impact on the whole. There are various forms of analysis used to improve safety in the workplace. In this module we'll look at:
To get a better idea how analysis is conducted, let's look at a couple of examples:
Bottom line: Remember, the purpose of analysis is to learn how each part impacts the whole.
This is the most basic and widely used tool for routine hazard analysis. It is sometimes called job safety analysis. The supervisor conducting the analysis (usually the supervisor) can follow these basic steps:
After completing the draft standard job procedure, review them with all employees performing the job. Obtaining their ideas about the hazards and proposed changes is an important part of this process. It will help ensure that your proposed changes are sensible and are accepted by the workers you are trying to protect.
The Job Hazard Analysis is more effective in eliminating and reducing injuries and illnesses in the workplace because it not only uncovers hazardous conditions, it also identifies unsafe work practices and procedures. The walk-around inspection, just by the nature of the process, limits the time an inspector can give to analyzing work practices. Consequently, the inspection emphasizes assessing for conditions. Unfortunately, most accidents are the result of unsafe practices and procedures.
The JHA, on the other hand, does take the time necessary to critically analyze each step of a job for both hazardous conditions and unsafe practices. The result is that most of the causes for accidents are discovered and changes made to prevent their occurrence. An effective JHA has the potential of significantly reducing injury and illness rates in the workplace.
The JHA may also be used by the employer as a training tool. In fact, the JHA can become a very useful lesson plan for conducting on-the-job training on hazardous tasks for new employees.
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Anytime you bring something new into your worksite, whether it is a piece of equipment, different materials, a new process, or an entirely new building, you may unknowingly introduce new hazards. If you are considering a change for your worksite, analyze it thoroughly beforehand.
Change analysis is cost-effective in terms of the human suffering and financial loss it prevents. Moreover, heading off a problem before it develops usually is less expensive than attempting to fix it after the fact.
An important step in preparing for a worksite change is considering the potential effect on your employees. Individuals respond differently to change, and even a clearly beneficial change may confuse employees and increase the risk of accidents. You will want to inform all affected employees of the change, provide training as needed, and pay attention to employee responses until everyone has adapted.
Even something as basic as a new facility needs to be reviewed carefully to identify hazards it might pose. A design that seems to enhance production appears delightful to the architect may be a harmful or even fatal management decision. Have safety and health experts take a careful look beforehand at all the design/building plans.
An equipment manufacturer does not know how its product will be used at your worksite. Therefore, you cannot rely totally on the manufacturer to have completely analyzed and prepared controls or safe procedures for the product. If the equipment is produced in a foreign country, it may not meet clear requirements of U.S. standards and laws. Therefore, involve health and safety professionals in the purchase decision and in the installation plans.
Before introducing new materials to your production processes, research the hazards that the materials themselves present. Also, determine any hazards that may appear due to the processes you plan to use with the materials. Some traditional materials, such as lead in paint, are dangerous to use but are replaceable with less hazardous mixtures. For other materials, you may not be able to find adequate substitutes. You may need to establish controls for the hazards these materials present.
New processes require workers to perform differently. Consequently, new hazards may develop even when your employees are using familiar materials, equipment, and facilities. Carefully develop safe work procedures for new processes. After the operators have become familiar with these procedures, perform routine hazard analysis (discussed below) to discover any hidden hazards.
Often a big change is composed of several smaller changes. When you begin producing a new product, chances are you will have new equipment, materials, and processes to monitor. Make sure each new addition is analyzed not only individually, but also in relation to the other changes.
Once you have analyzed the changes at your worksite, add this information to your basic inventory of hazards. This inventory is the foundation from which you design your hazard prevention and control program.
What is the definition of a "process" in this type of analysis? A process can be defined as any series of actions or operations that convert raw material into a product. The process can terminate in a finished product ready for consumption or in a product that is the raw material for subsequent processes.
A process hazard analysis is a detailed study of a process to identify every possible hazard to employees. Every element of the process must be studied. Each action of every piece of equipment, each substance present, and every move made by an employee must be assumed initially to pose a hazard to employees. Process hazard analysis will include hazards associated with:
The best time for an employer to conduct a process hazard analysis is when the process is first being designed, before equipment is selected. This review, in turn, will assist you in choosing process equipment for its effective, efficient, and safe operation. Be sure to consider the equipment's capacity for confining the process within predetermined safe limits. The type, number, and location of detectors you select for monitoring the process should ensure not only productive operation, but also safe operation. Remember to take into account any substance or mixture of substances that could present fire or explosion hazards.
When you have selected your equipment, the information from the process hazard analysis will help you to develop an appropriate inspection and maintenance schedule.
Who should conduct the PHA?
OSHA believes that a team approach is the best approach for performing a process hazard analysis, because no one person will possess all of the necessary knowledge and experience. Additionally, when more than one person is performing the analysis, different disciplines, opinions, and perspectives will be represented, and additional knowledge and expertise will be contributed to the analysis. At least one member of the team should be an employee who has experience with and knowledge of the process being evaluated.
When dealing with high hazard chemicals or volatile explosives, it is not enough to analyze only those hazards associated with normal operations: those times when the process works as expected. You need to analyze for unexpected or unplanned events. To do that you can use analytical tools such as:
Using the methods above, you can determine most of the possible process breakdowns. You then can design prevention/controls for the likely causes of these unwanted events.
For additional information on Process Hazard Analysis, see OSHA's Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals standard, 1910.119 and OSHA Publication 3133, Process Safety Management - Guidelines for Compliance.
Phase hazard analysis is a helpful tool in construction and other industries that involve a rapidly changing work environment, different contractors, and widely different operations. A phase is defined as an operation involving a type of work that presents hazards not experienced in previous operations, or an operation where a new subcontractor or work crew is to perform work.
In this type of hazard analysis, before beginning each major phase of work, the contractor or site manager should assess the hazards in the new phase. He/she should not only coordinate appropriate supplies and support, but also prepare for hazards that can be expected and establish a plan to eliminate or control them.
To find these hazards and to eliminate or control them, you will use many of the same techniques that you use in routine hazard analysis, change analysis, process analysis, and job analysis. One major additional task will be to find those hazards that develop when combinations of activities occur in close proximity. Workers for several contractors with differing expertise may be intermingled. They will need to learn how to protect themselves from the hazards associated with the work of nearby colleagues as well as the hazards connected to their own work and the hazards presented by combinations of the two kinds of work.
It is best to conduct a thorough pre-planning phase analysis that involves all contractors (if possible) in the process. The sooner you can anticipate and respond to potential hazards, the better. At the beginning of each phase, an additional phase analysis would also be appropriate to make sure all contingencies have been addressed.
Job hazard analysis, process hazard analysis, and phase analysis are all important tools you can use to make the workplace safe and healthful for workers. Remember, the analysis process begins with having industrial hygiene, safety, and occupational health experts conduct comprehensive assessments of your worksite to help you initially determine the existing and potential hazards.