Checklists keep airliners flying. They can keep your safety program up and running, too.
All too often, workers take the blame for safety lapses when management could have anticipated job hazards and eliminated them before workers had a chance to err. Job hazard analysis (JHA) provides a systematic approach for examining work processes to identify a variety of potential threats that might otherwise “fall through the cracks.”
OSHA and other workplace safety groups are strongly committed to JHA. The agency offers these guidelines on how to do it right:
- Set priorities. Do JHA first on those jobs with the highest injury or illness rates, those with the greatest potential for causing disabling injuries (even if there haven’t been any accidents), and those that are new or substantially changed in process.
- Involve your employees. They know best how the job works, where hazards are apparent, and where there have been near misses. They’re also the ones with the most to gain from increasing safety. However, make it clear that you’re evaluating the job, not their performance of it, or you might get less-than-complete answers.
- Break the job down into its component tasks and actions in the smallest steps that make sense, even individual hand movements. Consider videotaping the work sequence from several angles.
- For each step, ask: What can go wrong? What’s the likelihood of it happening? What are the consequences if it does? How can the potential problem be prevented? Look at all possible contributing factors: The work environment, the tools, the process, and the employee’s actions. Many accidents are caused by a combination of factors that create a “perfect storm.”
- Document and remediate. Take all steps possible to eliminate the potential hazard, and record what you’ve done. Others at your facility should be able to know about and to learn from your experiences.
- Make policy match reality. Be sure that managers keep fixes in place and watch for hazards to reoccur. Put it in writing, including penalties for failure to comply.
- Use checklists. This will help ensure that workers and managers think through all the issues involved with any procedure and certify in writing that all issues were addressed.