3 Steps to a Stronger JSA

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A job safety analysis (JSA) is a tool we use to identify hazards and eliminate them before they occur. It’s a tool that can save a coworker’s life and even your own life. A great JSA can impress a client and result in fewer injuries and illnesses.


When it comes to writing a strong JSA, the following tips can help:

1.       Identify the Real Hazards

2.       Show ALL of the Steps

3.       Control the Hazards

1.       Identify the Real Hazards

Identifying the true hazards in a job may be the most difficult part. People tend to become content with the space they work in. When we do an action a hundred times and never get hurt, it gives us a false sense of safeness. We stop thinking about these actions as hazards and start putting them on the backburner when it comes to safety.

However, when identifying the real hazards of a job, we must put the feeling of complacency aside and ask ourselves questions like: “What could hurt me?” or “What are the consequences if something does happen?”

"Don't get complacent - get the conversation started. Get people involved."

Look at the perspective as if it was “Bring your kids to work day”. What do you see as a danger for your kids? What would you not let them touch or even go close to? Everything you just thought of are hazards and even though you might not think of some of these things as dangers to yourself, they still are.

So then how do we find all of real and true hazards? Don’t get complacent - get the conversation started. Get people involved. Everyone should be a part of the JSA process. A new employee may see a hazard others have become accustomed to and more experienced workers can use their knowledge of past incidents they have run into.

2.      Show ALL of the Steps

A great JSA will have all of the steps thoroughly explained out. From the largest to the smallest steps, they all should be listed. Some actions often get learned into our muscle memory from doing them so often and we forget that these are their own individual steps.

Think as if you were writing a “How-To” on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to someone completely new to the concept and you can’t forget ANY steps. First, you would mention to get out all of the ingredients and utensils and where to get them: peanut butter from the pantry, jelly from the fridge, bread from the bread box, a plate from the cabinet, and a butter knife from the utensil drawer. Next, you’ll have to explain specifically how to use these items: “Open the peanut butter jar, use the butter knife to get a dollop of peanut butter, pick up one slice of bread, spread the peanut using the butter knife…”

As we start to think about every individual step, we realize that there is a lot to go through for such a simple task. Some of these steps might seem tedious, but it is simply because in our minds this is common knowledge. In our minds, of course the peanut butter should be spread using a butter knife. But to someone who is completely new to the concept, this might be a tool they wouldn’t think to use.

Now let’s apply this same “step-by-step” concept to something more work related, such as changing a light bulb properly. Does everyone know all of the true steps to this task? Do they know to ensure the power is turned off, locked out, and tagged out? Do they know to get the correct ladder for the job, checking that it will sustain the weight being held and will reach the appropriate height? Do they know to ensure the ladder is on stable ground and that they need to keep 3 points of contact at all times while on the ladder? All of these steps need to be written for there to be no doubt in this employee’s mind that they are doing everything correctly to complete this task.

3.      Control the Hazards

Once the hazards are identified, it must be discussed on how to control/eliminate them. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that once the hazard is found, it is automatically fixed. But steps must be taken in order to address the hazard.

When addressing a hazard, all three controls must be thought about: engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Engineering controls are the most effective because they change the physical work environment or machine to better protect the employee. If this step cannot be done, use administrative controls to reduce the worker’s exposure to the hazard through training, planning, and scheduling. PPE should be used as an additional control when the other two forms cannot omit the hazard enough. PPE includes used items such as safety glasses, gloves, face guards, etc.

When thinking through how to control the hazards, everyone should be involved in the process. As discussed earlier, new and also more seasoned employees can present interesting points. So get the conversation started and check that everyone feels comfortable stating their opinions and asking questions.

A lot goes into creating a JSA, but it is all worth it to see less injuries and illnesses to your team. Hopefully, taking the above tips into account will help to create a strong JSA that will help to both save lives and impress clients.


What other tips do you use to write your strongest JSA?

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