Identify Job Steps by Observing a Worker in Action - Safetip #198

Safety Tip and Best Practice
January 29, 2020

Our latest Safetip is about breaking down a job into steps in a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) / Job Safety Analysis (JSA) by observing a worker in action.

The Three Stages of a JHA/JSA

A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) / Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is used to identify hazards during each step of a job, and to conduct risk assessments regarding the potential harm that these hazards may create.

After selecting a job to analyze, you’re ready to conduct the JHA/JSA by following these three stages:

  1. Break down a job into a sequence of steps.
  2. Identify potential hazards for each step.
  3. Eliminate hazards or determine control measures to mitigate risks.

The JHA/JSA procedure starts with the proper identification of basic job steps in the right sequence. Everything that follows depends on the successful completion of this first stage.

Observe a Worker

It might be tempting to cut corners and break a job into basic steps simply by asking people around. But that would be a mistake. It’s better to observe a worker in action and identify the basic steps.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) offers the following guidance that you can use:

  • The observer is usually the immediate supervisor, but often the analysis can be better by having also another person present (e.g. member of a safety committee).
  • The observer should have experienced all parts of the job.
  • The goal of the exercise must be clearly explained to observed workers to avoid giving them the impression that they’re being monitored.
  • The worker should be observed when the job is being performed during normal times and situations (e.g. observing a night shift worker at night).
  • Record steps in the correct sequence. Potential hazards can be missed, or non-existent hazards can be introduced if any job step is in the wrong order.
  • Be careful not to define steps in a way that is too general or too detailed. Missing steps may mean missing hazards. But too many steps (more than 10) can also be a problem.
  • Make note of what is done, not how it is done.
  • Start the description of each step with an action verb.

After the exercise is completed, the breakdown of job steps should be discussed with all participants, including the worker who was observed.

Finally, the entire process of conducting a JHA/JSA can be accelerated and more efficient through the use of job hazard analysis/job safety analysis software. The analysis can be automated, and JHAs/JSAs can be shared across the entire organization.

Our Safetips share safety tips or best practices that contribute to safety excellence. Visit Enablon Insights regularly for new Safetips!



Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader