Conducting Workplace Inspections and Job Hazard Analysis
JHSC workplace inspections are one of the key responsibilities of the committee. A job hazard analysis aims to identify hazards that could endanger the health or safety of anyone in the workplace. It can also determine whether established procedures are being followed.
An inspection achieves its purpose by seeking answers to four questions:
- Is a hazard or potential hazard present in the workplace?
- Is any worker or other person exposed or likely to be exposed to the hazard?
- Has anyone suffered injury or a health effect as a result of this exposure, or is anyone likely to be affected?
- Are established procedures being followed?
Action can then be taken to control or remove the hazard in order to prevent work-related incidents, disease or injury.
Planned inspections are carried out regularly by the employer and designated worker members of the joint health and safety committee in a workplace. In workplaces with 6-19 workers, a health and safety representative completes monthly inspections. Those completing the workplace inspections may cover the entire workplace or cover different work areas on separate occasions.
Inspections are not only for industrial workplaces, mines, and construction sites. Any kind of workplace can be involved. Laboratories, offices, warehouses, and stores may all contain hazards to health or safety. These hazards can be identified by inspection. The workplace might be a bus moving along city streets, or it might be a number of power line sites visited by powerline technicians.
Hazard assessments take on many forms. One common type of hazard assessment is a job hazard analysis. Job hazard analysis is a technique used to assess health and safety hazards associated with jobs or tasks and to identify possible controls. There are many specific methods for doing this, each with its own terminology. JHSC members should be familiar with any system of job hazard analysis used by their employer. Some of these systems have forms and checklists to ensure that every aspect of the analysis is complete.
A job hazard analysis systematically breaks down work into its basic components. This allows the hazards at each step to be thoroughly evaluated. A job hazard analysis leads to conclusions about procedures needed to eliminate or control the hazards.
The joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative has an obvious interest in participating in a job hazard analysis. They have a right to receive any report that concerns occupational health and safety. The report of a job hazard analysis may call attention to problems that JHSC members should consider during workplace inspections. The JHSC or HSR may make recommendations to the employer based on a job hazard analysis.
A job hazard analysis might reveal hazards specific to the use of that equipment in a particular workplace. In this case, customized procedures might be required. The equipment supplier might be consulted in the process.
Steps in a Job Hazard Analysis
A job consists of a number of tasks. A job hazard analysis is performed on an individual task. There are five steps.
1. Identify tasks and steps
Break each task down into steps. There may be only two or three steps in a task. If a task has a lot of steps, break it down into two smaller tasks and perform a job hazard analysis on each of them separately. Describe and list each task in sequence.
2. Identify the risk factors at each step
Beside each task, write down the materials, equipment, processes and environmental factors involved that could cause an incident or health effects. People factors and system factors may also be relevant.
3. Identify the hazards associated with each task/factor combination
Systematically go through every risk factor for every task and consider what specific hazards might be involved. This may include the evaluation of worker exposure to one or more hazardous materials. Make a list of all the types of hazards that apply: physical, chemical, biological, musculoskeletal, psychosocial, and safety. This should include the time spent by the worker in various parts of the workplace.
4. Identify controls
Identify procedures or modifications needed to eliminate or control the hazards. This may require changes to people factors, equipment, materials, procedures, tools, systems, or processes.
5. Validate the analysis
Implement the needed controls and then validate the analysis by observing the task in operation. Make sure that new hazards have not been introduced.
Reviewing and Updating Safety Policies and Procedures
While management has the ultimate responsibility for writing and maintaining safety policies and procedures, the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) can play a crucial role in supporting this process.
JHSC members typically have a deep understanding of the workplace’s specific safety challenges and hazards. They can provide valuable insights and expertise to management when reviewing policies and procedures, ensuring that the documents are practical, relevant, and effective for the specific work environment. The JHSC is actively involved in identifying workplace hazards and assessing risks. Based on their findings, they can identify any gaps in existing policies or procedures and recommend necessary updates to address these deficiencies.
The JHSC can analyze incident reports and near-miss data to identify recurring patterns or trends. This analysis can help pinpoint areas where existing policies may be inadequate or where new policies are needed.
Management can consult with the JHSC during the policy development or revision process. The JHSC members can actively provide feedback on draft policies and procedures. The committee can provide input and participate in discussions, offering diverse perspectives and representing the interests of the workforce. Committee members can offer suggestions for improvement, clarity, and practicality, ensuring that the policies are easily understood and implemented by employees.
JHSC members are typically well-versed in relevant health and safety legislation and regulations. They can assist management in ensuring that the policies align with these legal requirements. Oftentimes, it is a JHSC member that identifies a policy revision is necessary based on new legislation.
The JHSC can play a vital role in promoting employee buy-in and acceptance of new policies. When employees see that the committee has been involved in the policy development process, they may be more likely to embrace the changes and adhere to the new safety measures. The JHSC can support management in the communication and rollout of updated policies and procedures. They can help ensure that employees receive the necessary training to understand and follow a new procedure.
After the policies are implemented, the JHSC can assist in monitoring their effectiveness. They can track key safety indicators and provide feedback to management about the policies’ impact on workplace safety. The JHSC can advocate for a culture of continuous improvement in safety policies and procedures. They can encourage regular reviews and updates to ensure that the policies remain relevant and up-to-date.
By involving the JHSC in the policy review and update process, organizations can benefit from the committee’s expertise, gain employee support, and ultimately enhance workplace safety and health. The collaboration between management and the JHSC fosters a shared commitment to safety, leading to a safer and healthier work environment for everyone.
Incident Reporting and Investigation Protocols
Investigations and reporting are important tools for assessing and controlling potential health and safety hazards. The purpose of these activities is not to find fault or lay blame but rather to identify causes of incidents so that controls can be put in place to prevent further occurrences.
If an incident results in a fatality or a critical injury, the worker members of the joint health and safety committee will designate one or more of its members to investigate the critical injury or fatality. Only one of those designated members has the right to inspect the actual site, subject to the limitations set out in section 51 of the OHSA. In smaller workplaces, the health and safety representative has this right.
The purpose of an incident investigation is to prevent the reoccurrence of the incident. The focus should be on the incident, not the injury. It is essential to look beyond the immediate cause of an incident and look for the contributing factors and several causes. The biggest mistake that incident investigators can make is jumping to conclusions on the basis of immediate appearances. A proper investigation has to look deeper.