In these financially challenging times, one inexpensive tool that can quickly help business owners/operators, is the Job Safety Analysis (JSA), also known as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). This is a widely accepted time-proven tool. Conducting a job guided by a well thought out JSA can also greatly reduce the likelihood of workers being affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus - 2019) as well as other hazards while on the job. For those who don't know, a JSA worksheet is a procedure where a specific job or task is divided into the individual steps necessary to complete the task. This is so that all the safety risks associated with the individual steps necessary to complete the task are evaluated to facilitate integration of accepted safety and health principles and practices into the particular job procedures. For each basic step of every proposed job, the purpose of the JSA is to identify potential hazards and to recommend the safest way to complete the job. The resultant final JSA document for each job should communicate the findings of the analysis, present any risk reducing mitigations, and provide the workers with safety guidance and prescriptive procedures. It should be pointed out that while the procedures presented in a job safety analysis are normally well thought out and stated, conditions in the field may deviate from the anticipated conditions analyzed initially. Prior to starting work, to compensate for any condition changes, workers should always expect to evaluate the actual conditions for the work tasks, then where appropriate conduct a management of change (MOC) exercise to carefully adjust the JSA procedures in a rigorous fashion to meet the actual conditions. If the conditions and procedures are appropriate, then carefully proceed with the task. Any changes that are agreed upon during the MOC need to be documented and annotated on the JSA worksheet at the job site so the task can proceed safely.
There are many sources of JSA templates to help make building your own JSAs straight-forward. Those sources can be easily found on the internet using a Google search; but one great source to obtain a relatively inexpensive tool/templates is at www.jsabuilder.com. JSABuilder has recently been updated to present COVID-19 related tags to help facilitate the timely preparation of JSAs by safety conscious companies. Implementing the use of JSAs is a key way for companies to run safer workplaces. It's a cost-effective strategy. Consider if just one worker is prevented from contracting COVID-19 or having an accident by the development and use of JSAs, that employer will have received a very positive return on their minimal investment. If older JSAs are in current use, great, but they probably need to be updated and expanded to include COVID-19 related considerations. If JSAs are a new tool being considered for adoption by a user, it's a no-brainer for companies/entities large or small. JSAs are a necessary tool in this world and they can be archived and used again for similar tasks or modified for new tasks providing additional savings.
Now as the nation begins to re-open following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, JSAs can help support social distancing efforts, which will become more challenging since people will become more active and the risk for infection will undoubtably be amplified for everybody that has not been infected previously. Let's not forget the risk in the future may be even greater than estimated, as to date, it is not proven to what extent immunity in previously infected individuals will be maintained going forward. In the future social distancing will create a new normal that will remain with us for an extended period at a minimum. Bearing in mind the new normal, COVID-19 risks will need to be treated by employers as a continuing issue to be encountered by workers throughout the day, every day in the future, until the issue ceases. Many work tasks may need to be modified and updated to include considerations for social distancing and possibly disinfection of work areas, as appropriate. Health and safety considerations that would have been considered adequate for JSAs in the past will probably need to be augmented using more comprehensive analyses to include consideration of potential incidental encounters that might conflict newer social distancing requirements. An incidental encounter can potentially introduce additional risks because of the 1) highly contagious nature of the virus, 2) continuing potential for asymptomatic individuals in public areas, and 3) presence of individuals not practicing social spacing or simply don't understand any of the concepts and therefore may not employ sufficient care when out in public. Through their JSAs, employers can direct their workers to engage the proper procedures to protect themselves and other workers throughout every entire workday.
As the country has started re-opening it is widely reported that many people are treating social distancing as outmoded. JSAs are a great tool for defining, establishing, and communicating how companies want their teams to safely operate and clarifying that social distancing as a required work routine that needs to continue. Using a JSA software like JSABuilder is an easy way to get started. You can also create an activity hazard analysis form with this software.
Workers should be reminded that, prior to starting any task, going on break through the day, or after job tasks have been completed are all periods when they must be especially alert to potential incidental encounters. These are times when workers may be distracted and unfortunately relax their attention on safety. Especially for these periods between work task steps, JSAs can provide more granularity to help direct observance of cautions that might eliminate accidents or contact with potential COVID-19 sources. Relaxation of attention between tasks, is complacency and where safety is involved, complacency is never a good thing. So JSAs should always highlight that issue, as complacency is a threat that workers must always be vigilant to avoid and follow the appropriate procedures.
Remember, JSA worksheets are always an essential tool to list and present potential issues along with mitigations to facilitate communicating safe work practices that are necessary for every team member, every task, on every job that is undertaken. JSABuilder.com is a fantastic on-line job safety analysis app to assist in preparing your job safety analysis. Set up a free trial account today and follow us on Twitter @JSABuilder, where we Tweet about Health and Safety, provide Safety tips, and updates on current Health and Safety topics. Work safe, go home healthy at the end of every day!