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Ergonomics Job Hazard Analysis

Introduction

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Efforts to identify jobs or tasks having known risk factors for musculoskeletal problems can provide the groundwork for changes aimed at risk reduction. Even without clear medical evidence, screening jobs for musculoskeletal risk factors can offer a basis for early interventions.

The JHA Format

The ergonomics JHA is usually done by persons with experience with the task and training in the JHA process. While most job analysis has common approaches, such as a focus on the same set of risk factors mentioned earlier, no "standard" protocol exists for conducting a job analysis to assess ergonomic hazards.

In this course we use a very simple process and format for developing an ergonomics JHA. The table below shows the basic layout of the form we'll be using. We'll fill in the columns later as we cover each topic. You will see a great variety of JHA forms used by various companies. As you can see below, the JHA format includes the job description and three columns: Basic Job Step, Hazards - Possible Injuries, and Preventive Measures.

JOB: _____________________________

BASIC JOB STEP HAZARDS - POSSIBLE INJURIES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
1.
2.
3.
SAFE JOB PROCEDURE


Develop the Steps

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List the steps in the job.

The process of "analysis" in the context of an ergonomics JHA includes breaking the "whole" job down into its basic steps. The idea is to carefully describe actions and ergonomic hazards within each step, and finally how to mitigate those hazards through preventive measures.

Every Step Has an Actor and Action(s)

Each step in a job describes what the worker (actor) does (action), so let's take a look at each of these two components:

  • Actor: The actor is the person accomplishing the action. The actor may perform or NOT perform a particular action in a step.
  • Action: An action is "the something" that is done by an actor. Actions may or may not be observable. Actions may describe an activity that is accomplished or not accomplished.

If two or more employees are performing the job, identify the employee (actor) first and then the action(s). If only one employee is performing the job, there's no need to identify the actor.

Write the step in active tense. See the example of active and passive tense below:

  • Active tense: "Lift the heavy box to the conveyor platform."
  • Passive tense: "The heavy box was lifted to the conveyor platform."

The table below shows an example of the first three steps in the JHA.

JOB: Placing heavy containers on the conveyor platform

BASIC JOB STEP HAZARDS - POSSIBLE INJURIES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
1. Position your body over the heavy container in a "squat" posture with knees bent and back vertical.
2. Grab hold on each side of the container.
3. Lift the container to the conveyor platform.
SAFE JOB PROCEDURE




Describe the Hazards in Each Step

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Look for possible hazards in each step.

A very important part in the ergonomics JHA development process is to discover the hazards lurking within each step. A basic safety concept must be understood by all safety staff: to have an accident, a hazard and exposure to the hazard must exist.

  • A hazard is an unsafe condition that could cause injury or illness to an employee.
  • Exposure usually refers to an employee's placement relative to the hazard's "danger zone". If the employee is within the danger zone, the employee is exposed.

How To Identify 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 the hazard arise?
  • What are other contributing factors?
  • How likely is it that the hazard will occur?

To make your JHA useful, document the answers to these questions in a consistent manner. Describing a hazard by answering the questions above ensures you target the most important contributors to the hazard. The hazard column in your JHA should identify the hazards, and the potential for exposure to hazards.

How To Identify Hazards (Continued)

Rarely is an ergonomics injury a simple case of one single event or cause. More frequently, many contributing events tend to line up to cause hazardous conditions and unsafe behaviors.

It's important to ask the following questions as part of the analysis process:

  • What can go wrong? Could the worker strain a back muscle
  • What are the consequences? Could the injury be serious, preventing the worker from continuing work?
  • How could it happen? An injury could most likely occur due to excessive weight or improper lifting techniques.
  • What are other contributing factors? Lack of training in proper lifting techniques, inadequate workstation design, or workload throughout the day could all contribute.
  • How likely is it that the hazard will occur? If the worker does not perform this job regularly, or not strong enough to lift the weight, it's more likely the worker will be injured.

Let's see what identifying hazards and possible consequences look like in a JHA:

JOB: Placing heavy containers on the conveyor platform

BASIC JOB STEP HAZARDS - POSSIBLE INJURIES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
1. Position your body over the heavy container in a "squat" posture with knees bent and back vertical. Improper posture. Back muscle strain or sprains.
2. Grasp hold on each side of the container. Improper grip, lack of hand-holds. Hand, arm, shoulder strains.
3. Lift the container to the conveyor platform. Overexertion. Back muscle and spine injuries.
SAFE JOB PROCEDURE




Preventive Measures

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Good example of a job needing ergonomics JHA.

After reviewing your list of hazards with the employee, next consider using preventive measures that will eliminate or reduce them. To reduce the risk of an ergonomic injury, eliminate the hazard and/or eliminate exposure to the hazard.

Information obtained from a job hazard analysis is most useful when hazard control measures are developed and incorporated into the job. Each of the strategies below employs a number of prioritized methods within what's called the "Hierarchy of Controls". We'll cover the hierarchy in more detail in the next module.

  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Engineering controls
  4. Administrative controls
  5. Personal protective equipment

The idea behind the hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of the list are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom.

JOB: Placing heavy containers on the conveyor platform

BASIC JOB STEP HAZARDS - POSSIBLE INJURIES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
1. Position your body over the heavy container in a "squat" posture with knees bent and back vertical. Improper posture. Back muscle strain or sprains. Only trained workers should lift heavy loads.
2. Grasp hold on each side of the container. Improper grip, lack of hand-holds. Hand, arm, shoulder strains. Use high-grip gloves. Lift using hand-holds. Two persons should lift odd-shaped objects.
3. Lift the container to the conveyor platform. Overexertion. Back muscle and spine injuries. Use squat lift. Lift with legs, not back.
SAFE JOB PROCEDURE




Write the Safe Job Procedure (SJP)

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A good SJP paints a word picture for workers.

The safe job procedure is the final result or product of the JHA process. The safe job procedure is an excellent document to use as a training lesson plan. In fact, you might include the safe job procedures you've developed as part of the safety training plan.

If the safe job procedure is poorly written and hard to understand by those unfamiliar with the job, the JHA may not be effective as an on-the-job training tool. It's important to write a clear, concise, and concrete safe job procedure. So, let's take a look at some of the best strategies in writing safe job procedures.

Points to Remember

Write in a step-by-step format. Usually, this means writing a number of paragraphs. Each paragraph should attempt to :

  1. Describe the step. Remember each step is describing one action. For example, you might say, "Grasp the breaker switch and move it from the on to the off position (down)."
  2. Point out the hazard. If a step includes exposure to a hazard, there are four parts to the step:
    1. describe the action
    2. identify the hazard
    3. describe the possible injury the hazard could cause
    4. identify the safety precaution to prevent the injury

For instance, you would continue the warning by saying, "Grasp the breaker switch and move it from the on to the off position (down). To prevent a possible serious burn injury if an arc flash occurs, be sure you turn your head and look away as you flip the breaker switch."

More Points to Remember

Shipboard JHA.

  • Paint a word picture - concrete vs. abstract. The idea is to write the procedure in such a way that someone who is not familiar with the job can actually "see" each step occur. When writing safe job procedures, we tend to write in a technical style because it seems to be more "efficient." However, if you are going to use the safe job procedure as a lesson plan for conducting safety training, it's probably a good idea to write in a more interesting conversational style.
  • Write in the second person. For example, say "Be sure you...". Try to avoid writing in the third person such as, "Be sure the worker...". In most steps you won't have to worry about this because the person you are writing to is implied.
  • Write in the present tense. Say "take" rather than "should be taken." This helps to create the word picture and streamline the safe job procedure.
  • Write as clearly as possible. Say "use" rather than "utilize." Replacing more complex words with simple words helps to make sure your employees comprehend the material.
  • Acronyms. If you use acronyms or jargon, make sure the meaning of the acronym is spelled out when first used. Make sure jargon is explained on first use.

Still More Points to Remember

  • Emphasize Consequences. Always discuss the consequences of the employee's personal behavior.
  • Include notes, cautions, warnings. Tell the employee about the dangers and safety precautions to reduce the dangers in each step. Doing this also helps to emphasize the costs (injury, illness) and benefits (health) of using safety precautions.
  • Keep sentences short. Grammar checker software can help you do this. Usually, a sentence of 7-15 words is adequate.
  • Emphasize why. Remind the worker why it is important to do the step safely. Remember, there is no successful safety management system without effective accountability.

Below is a completed JHA including the safe job procedure.

JOB: Placing heavy containers on the conveyor platform

BASIC JOB STEP HAZARDS - POSSIBLE INJURIES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
1. Position your body over the heavy container in a "squat" posture with knees bent and back vertical. Improper posture. Back muscle strain or sprains. Only trained workers should lift heavy loads.
2. Grasp hold on each side of the container. Improper grip, lack of hand-holds. Hand, arm, shoulder strains. Use high-grip gloves. Lift using hand-holds. Two persons should lift odd-shaped objects.
3. Lift the container to the conveyor platform. Overexertion. Back muscle and spine injuries. Use squat lift. Lift with legs, not the back. Keep the back vertical.
SAFE JOB PROCEDURE

Step 1. Position your body over the container in a "squat" posture with knees bent and back vertical. Be sure your body is placed over the center of the container between the knees. Doing this will allow for a vertical lift with the least amount of compressive forces on the back.

Step 2. Grasp each side of the container. Make sure you have a secure grasp. Use hand-holds if they are available. If needed, use high-grip gloves.

Step 3. With the container positioned between the knees, lift vertically with back kept in the vertical position. Hold the container close to the body with elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle.

Instructions

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. The ergonomics job hazard analysis does all of the following, except _____.

2. Ergonomics job hazard analyses are usually done by those who have experience and training.

3. Which of the following is not described in the text as an effective procedure for collecting information on the ergonomic components of a job?

4. Fill in the blanks: Jobs in which _____ cases have been identified should receive _____ attention, followed by those in which past records have noted a high incidence or _____ of MSDs despite the lack of current cases.

5. No "standard" protocol exists for conducting a job analysis to assess ergonomic hazards.


Have a great day!

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