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Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Analyzing the Workplace

Beyond Identification

What is Analysis? - Matthew Horn

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?

Analysis - How each part impacts the whole

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:

  • Job Hazard Analysis
  • Change Analysis
  • Process Hazard Analysis
  • Phase Hazard Analysis

To get a better idea how analysis is conducted, let's look at a couple of examples:

  • if we are conducting a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), we'll look at each step of the job to determine the impact each step has on the whole job.
  • if we are conducting a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), we'll look at each procedure in the process to determine its effect on the entire process.

Bottom line: Remember, the purpose of analysis is to learn how each part impacts the whole.

Job Hazard Analysis Process

Job Hazard Analysis - ACSA Safety

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:

  1. Meet with the employee before the JHA begins. Ask the employee to help you conduct the JHA by performing the job in the usual manner. It's important that the employee feel comfortable doing work while being monitored.
  2. Begin by asking the employee to join you in breaking down a job into a series of unique steps in column one of the JHA form. This is best done by describing each step in order of occurrence as you watch an employee performing the job.
    • Make sure you watch at least five to six cycles of the procedure to get an accurate list of steps.
    • It's a good idea to use a videotape recorder so that you and the employee can review the procedure while conducting the rest of the JHA.
  3. Next, examine each step to determine the hazardous conditions or unsafe work practices that exist or that might occur. Reviewing the job steps and hazards with the employee performing the job will help make sure there is an accurate and complete list.
    • Manufacturer's equipment operating instructions or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) should also be considered.
    • Think about root causes for each hazard identified so that permanent corrective actions can be made.
    • Make sure you list hazards for all steps in column two of the form before moving on to the next phase of the JHA.

Job Hazard Analysis Process (Continued)

Analyze each step in the task.
  1. Now determine whether the hazardous conditions can be eliminated or the job could be performed differently to reduce exposure to the hazards. Would it help to combine steps or change the sequence? Are safety equipment and other precautions needed? If a safer way of performing the job is possible, list each new step, being as specific as possible about the new procedure. If no safer way to perform the job is feasible, determine whether any physical changes will eliminate or reduce the danger. These might include redesigning equipment, changing tools, adding machine guards, using personal protective equipment, or improving ventilation. Establishing a personal hygiene routine may be appropriate where toxic dust is a hazard. Write a brief safe procedure in column three of the JHA form for each step in the job.
  2. Finally, at the bottom of the form write a new draft standard job procedure that includes each of the safe practices listed in column three. Write the procedure in a step-by-step format in easy-to-read language (preferably about 8th grade level). Assume you are actually demonstrating the procedure to one person. Write the procedure in present tense, first person and active verbs.
  3. For instance, instead of writing, "Ensure leather gloves are worn as the frammel is slowly turned 90 degrees in a counter-clockwise direction using a 3/8" crescent wrench." write, "Use a 3/8" crescent wrench to slowly turn the frammel counter-clockwise 90 degrees. Wear leather gloves to protect your hands as you perform this step."

  4. 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.

Job Hazard Analysis Process (Continued)

Here's a sample form:

XYZ, Inc.
Job Hazard Analysis
Date: ____________ JHA Number: _________ Steps: 1 through 5
Location of Task: _______________________________________
Task Description: _______________________________________

Step 1 Description


Preventive Measure(s)
____________________ ____________________ ____________________

Step 2 Description


Preventive Measure(s)
____________________ ____________________ ____________________

Step 3 Description


Preventive Measure(s)
____________________ ____________________ ____________________

Step 4 Description


Preventive Measure(s)
____________________ ____________________ ____________________

Step 5 Description


Preventive Measure(s)
____________________ ____________________ ____________________

Safe Job Procedures

Which is More Effective: The Inspection or JHA?

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.

Change Analysis

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 unintentionally may introduce new hazards. If you are considering a change for your worksite, you should 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 can throw a worker temporarily off-balance -- literally as well as figuratively -- 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 worker response until everyone has adapted.

Building or Leasing a New Facility

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 of your product and 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.

Installing New Equipment

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. Moreover, 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.

Using New Materials

Before introducing new materials to your production processes, research the hazards that the materials themselves present. Also try to 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.

Starting Up New Processes

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.

Analyzing Multiple Changes

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.

Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)

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:

  • Mechanical and chemical operations,
  • Low and high temperature and pressure operations,
  • Possible high levels of radiant energy,
  • Direct contamination of employees, and
  • Contamination of the air with toxic substances.

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.

Preparing for the Unplanned Event

Especially 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. Using analytical tools such as "what if," "checklist," hazard and operability study (HAZOP), failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), or "fault-tree" analysis, 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 (Revised 1994), "Process Safety Management - Guidelines for Compliance."

Phase Hazard Analysis

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.

When Should the Project Phase Analysis Occur?

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.

Putting It All Together

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.

Well, that's a lot of information to absorb. But there's light at the end of the's time to take the module quiz.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Complete the following: Analysis _____

2. Which of the following is the most basic and widely used tool for routine hazard analysis: It is sometimes called job safety analysis?

3. Conduct this type of analysis any time you bring something new into your worksite, whether it be a piece of equipment, different materials, a new process, or an entirely new building.

4. The JHA may also be used by the employer as a _____.

5. This analysis method is most useful in construction.

6. When conducting _____ at least one member of the team should be an employee who has experience with and knowledge of the process being evaluated.

7. One major additional task in _____ is to find those hazards that develop when combinations of activities occur in close proximity.

8. A _____ 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.

9. "What if," "checklist," hazard and operability study (HAZOP), failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), or "fault-tree" analysis, is used in _____ to determine possible process breakdowns.

10. Process hazard analysis will include hazards associated with all of the following, except

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.