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Creating Safe Job Procedures

A Job Procedure is a written, specific step-by-step description of how to complete a job safely and efficiently from start to finish.


In carrying out their tasks at work, what workers don’t know can hurt them. In the realm of Job Procedures, one way to increase knowledge of hazards is to conduct Job Hazard Analyses on individual jobs or tasks.

A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is a procedure which provides for the integration of accepted safety and health principles and practices into a particular operation. In a JHA, each basic step of the job is examined to identify potential hazards and to determine the safest way to do the job. The end result is called a Safe Job Procedure.

JHAs should always be team efforts. By involving others in the process, you reduce the possibility of overlooking an individual job step or a potential hazard.  You also increase the likelihood of identifying the most appropriate measures for eliminating or controlling hazards.

The ACSA has not developed sample job procedures for every job in the construction industry. Each job is done in a different way depending upon conditions, hazards, types of equipment, company structures, and other factors. Samples of Job Procedures have been included at the end of this document to provide a model. You can modify the format or structure to meet your own needs and the requirements of the law.

An effective JHA team should include:

  • the supervisor;
  • the worker most familiar with how the job is done and its related hazards;
  • other workers who perform the job; and
  • experts or specialists such as maintenance personnel, occupational hygienists, ergonomists, or design engineers.

By involving as many knowledgeable and experienced people as possible, you ensure the JHA will be accurate and complete.

Once the JHA team has been selected, you need to make sure everyone involved is familiar with what a Job Hazard Analysis is and how it is performed.

Developing Safe Job Procedures

The terms ‘job’ and ‘task’ are commonly used interchangeably to mean a specific work assignment, such as ‘operating a grinder,’ ‘using a pressurized water extinguisher’ or ‘changing a flat tire.’

JHAs are not suitable for jobs defined too broadly, such as ‘overhauling an engine,’ or too narrowly, such as ‘positioning car jack.’ Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs) identify the materials and equipment needed and how and when to use them. Safe Job Procedures usually include:

  • Regulatory requirements
  • Personal Protective Equipment requirements
  • Training requirements
  • Responsibilities of each person involved in the job
  • A specific sequence of steps to follow to complete the work safely
  • Permits required
  • Emergency Procedures.

Basic stages in developing Safe Job Procedures are:

  • Identifying/selecting the job to be analyzed
  • Breaking the job down into a sequence of basic steps
  • Identifying potential hazards in each step
  • Determining preventative measures to overcome these hazards.

Identifying / Selecting the Job to be Analyzed

Ideally, all jobs should be subjected to a JHA. However, there are practical constraints posed by the amount of time and effort required to do a JHA. Another consideration is that each JHA will require amendments whenever equipment, raw materials, processes or the environment change. For these reasons, it is usually necessary to identify which jobs are to be analyzed. Even if an analysis of all jobs is planned, this step ensures that the most critical jobs are examined first.

Often a Safe Job Procedure is required by law. This is commonly referred to as a Code of Practice under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, where required by regulation. (This is not to be confused with a Safe Work Practice.) It is developed to ensure a particular work process is performed by competent workers in compliance with all appropriate regulations, and is made up from a list of specific job procedures. Specific examples include confined space entry work, machinery lockout/tagout procedures, provisions for working alone, trenching, and working near overhead power lines. These should be the first ones you assign for completion. Safe Job Procedures should be completed first.

Other factors to be considered in assigning a priority for analysis include:

  • Jobs with a high frequency of accidents or near misses which pose a significant threat to health and safety;
  • Jobs that have already produced fatalities, disabling injuries, illnesses or environmental harm;
  • Jobs that have the potential to cause serious injury, harm, or damage, even if they have never produced an injury or illness;
  • Jobs involving two or more workers who must perform specific tasks simultaneously;
  • Newly established jobs whose hazards may not be evident because of lack of experience;
  • Jobs that have undergone a change in procedure, equipment or materials;
  • Jobs whose operation may have been affected by new regulations or standards; and
  • Infrequently-performed jobs where workers may be at greater risk when undertaking non-routine jobs.

Keep in mind that every job should eventually undergo a JHA. Even the most routine jobs can include unrecognized hazards. By performing a thorough JHA you may be able to discover a safer or healthier way of performing the job.

Breaking the Job Down

After a job has been chosen for analysis, the next stage is to break the job into small steps. A job step is defined as a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work.

The form should be completed one column at a time, in other words, all of the basic job steps should be listed before moving to the second column. Then, all of the existing and potential hazards for each job step should be identified before listing any recommended solutions in the third column.  Concentrating on one column at a time helps ensure that the information in each column is accurate and complete.

Care must be taken not to make the steps too general, thereby missing specific steps and their associated hazards. On the other hand, if they are too detailed, there will be too many steps. A rule of thumb is that most jobs can be described in less than ten steps.  If more steps are required, consideration must be given to dividing the job into two segments, each with its separate JHA, or to combining steps where appropriate.

An important point to remember is to keep the steps in their correct sequence. Any step which is out of order may invalidate the analysis by missing potential hazards or by introducing hazards which do not actually exist.

Each step is recorded in sequence, noting what is done, rather than how it is done. Each item begins with an action verb. A form which can be used as a worksheet in preparing a JHA is included at the end of this section. JHA forms can differ from company to company, but most are similar to the samples provided.

The JHA is initiated by observing a worker doing the job. The observer is normally the immediate supervisor. The worker to be observed should be experienced and capable in all facets of the job. To foster full cooperation and participation, the reason for the exercise must be clearly explained. The JHA is neither a time and motion study in disguise, nor an attempt to uncover individual unsafe acts. The job, not the individual, is being studied in an effort to make it safe by identifying hazards and making modifications to eliminate or reduce them. The worker’s experience is important in making improvements.

The normal conditions under which a job is performed should apply during the period of observation. For example, if a job is routinely only done at night, the JHA scrutiny should also be conducted at night when typical light levels prevail. Similarly, only standard tools and equipment should be used. The only difference from normal operations is the fact that the worker is being observed.

When completed, the breakdown of steps should be discussed by all the participants (always including the experienced worker and, if necessary, recognized experts in the field like occupational hygienists, ergonomists, and engineers) to ensure that all basic steps have been noted and placed in the correct sequence.

Identifying Potential Hazards

Once the tasks have been broken down into the basic steps and have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified for each.  Based on observations of the job, knowledge of accident causes, personal experience and imagination, the things that could go wrong are listed for each step.

A second observation of the job being performed is advantageous. Since the basic steps have already been recorded, more attention can now be focused on potential hazards. At this stage, no attempt is made to solve any problems which may have been deterred.

For each step, determine “potential accidents” or “hazards” (the middle column of the form) and ways to correct them.  Some hazards to think about include:

  • Can any body part get caught in or between objects?
  • Do tools, machines, or equipment present any hazards?
  • Can the worker make harmful contact with objects?
  • Can the worker be struck by objects falling from above?
  • Can the worker slip, trip, or fall?
  • Can the worker suffer strain from lifting, pushing, or pulling?
  • Is the worker exposed to extreme heat or cold?
  • Is excessive noise or vibration a problem?
  • Is lighting a problem?
  • Can weather conditions affect safety?
  • Is harmful radiation a possibility?
  • Can contact be made with hot, toxic, or caustic substances?
  • Are there dust, fumes, mist, or vapours in the air?

Once potential hazards are identified, they can be listed in the middle column of the worksheet, numbered to match the corresponding job step.

Determining Preventative Measures

Determining Preventative Measures to Overcome These Hazards

The final stage in a JHA is to determine measures to eliminate or control the hazards identified.


We have described how to conduct a JHA by observing a worker actually performing the job, and by using the three column method.  The major advantages of this method are that it does not rely on individual memory.

Note: For infrequent or new jobs, observation may not be feasible. With these, one approach is to have a group of experienced workers and supervisors complete the JHA through discussion.  An advantage of this method is that more people are involved, allowing for a wider base of experience and promoting a more ready acceptance of the resulting Safe Job Procedure.  Where one exists, members of the Joint Worksite Occupational and Health Committee should participate in this process.

The initial benefits of conducting a JHA will become apparent in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected hazards and increase the job knowledge of those participating.   Safety awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of Safe Job Procedures is promoted.

The completed JHA, or better still, a written safe job procedure based on it, can form the basis for regular contact between supervisors and workers regarding safety. It can serve as a teaching aid for initial job training and as a briefing guide for infrequently performed jobs.  It may be used as a standard for safety inspections or observations and it will assist in completing comprehensive accident investigations.

JHA is a useful technique for identifying hazards so that measures can be taken to eliminate or control them.  Once the analysis is completed, the results must be communicated to all workers who are, or will be, performing that job. There are different ways of communicating these to workers; either style suggested is effective.

Three-Column Style
The side-by-side (three-column style) format used in JHA worksheets is not an ideal one for instructional purposes. Samples using this method are shown at the end of this section.

Narrative-Style Format
Better results can be achieved by using a narrative-style format.

For example, the Safe Job Procedure based on the partial JHA developed as an example in this document might start out like the samples #1 & 2.

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