Safetip #102: Avoid Making Job Steps Too General or Too Detailed

November 01, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about making job steps neither too general nor too detailed in a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) / Job Safety Analysis (JSA).

A Job Safety Analysis Has Four Steps

The first step in conducting Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs) / Job Safety Analyses (JSAs) is to select the job to be analyzed. Jobs that require a JHA/JSA because the development of JHAs/JSAs can be very time-consuming. Jobs with the highest injury or illness rates, or with many near misses, should receive a high priority.

Once a job is selected, the next step consists of breaking down a job into basic steps. Workers performing their jobs in their actual working environments during normal times and situations, to make sure that job steps are recorded in their correct sequence and all potential hazards are identified.

Not Too General, Not Too Detailed

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) defines a job step as “a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work”. CCOHS also makes a great point that is sometimes overlooked: Job steps must not be too general. By missing steps, associated hazards can also be missed. However, if job steps are too detailed, there is a risk of having too many steps. As a rule of thumb, most jobs can be described in less than ten steps, CCOHS says. If more steps are needed, you should consider dividing the job into two segments, each with a separate JHA/JSA, or combining steps where appropriate.

After breaking down a job into steps, you are ready to identify potential hazards for each step, and determine measures to eliminate or reduce hazards. Once you complete the JHA/JSA, select the next job to analyze based on priorities.

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