This question comes up from time to time, generally from people first introduced to the JSA process or who do not have access to a safety professional. As a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), I think I can answer that question for you.
Most OSHA regulations are not specific in how you comply with them. To be clear, there is not a specific federal OSHA requirement for a job safety analysis (JSA). However, we need to review the standards that require hazard assessments and consider that OSHA can always cite under the general duty clause.
Let’s dive in a little deeper to see if JSA’s will help you comply with any standards that require hazard assessments
General Duty Clause
The general duty clause states that every employer has a legal responsibility to provide a place of work free from recognized hazards. It also states that every company will comply with the Occupational Safety Act of 1970. No one ever talks about the provision in the General Duty Clause that requires employees to comply with OSHA rules and regulations, but that’s a topic for another post.
As I said, OSHA does not require employers to conduct a job safety analysis. However, OSHA does require employers to protect employees from hazards that are causing or may cause death. A case could be made that the only way to do this is through a hazard assessment. Let’s dig a little deeper into when a hazard assessment is required.
Standards with Hazard Assessment
On OSHA’s website, osha.gov, a page is included under safety management, specifically recommended practices for employers Safety and Health Programs. Within these recommended practices are several core elements identified by OSHA as necessary to comply with the act’s intent, which is to protect workers. OSHA has identified that a hazard assessment is a core element that every good safety management program has in place. You can download the OSHA recommended safety and health program directly from OSHA’s website by clicking the link included here. But that still doesn’t tell us which standards specifically call out hazard assessment.
(Need help understanding how to read OSHA regulations, check out this post.)
1910 Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment
The employer shall verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a certification of hazard assessment.
Under general requirements, OSHA standard 1910.132 Subpart I Personal protective equipment also states that an employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present. Again, OSHA does not explicitly spell out how you have to do a hazard assessment. However, they call for the employer to verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated and the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed. The subpart also requires the certification to be dated. It gives details as to what makes the document a certified hazard assessment.
1910 Subpart H Hazardous Materials
Employers shall consult with employees and their representatives on the conduct and development of process hazards analyses and the development of the other elements of process safety management in this standard.
Employers shall provide to employees and their representatives access to process hazard analyses and to all other information required to be developed under this standard.
There are at least two standards in the general industry that call out when a hazard assessment is required. We have already reviewed the first. The second is 29 CFR 1910.119. Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals. Two sections of this standard call for a process hazard analysis to be done commonly referred to as PHA. While this is not specifically a job safety analysis, there are similarities in principle. According to 1910.119, a company that uses highly hazardous chemicals must review the process or steps it will take. The process identifies the hazards associated with each step and appropriate controls. That should sound very familiar to you if you know the JSA process.
Letter of Interpretation
In a letter of interpretation dated June 22nd, 1999, the Department of Labor affirms that OSHA does not require employers to ensure a process hazard analysis reflects covered processes. The company is required to conduct a hazard assessment that addresses the PHA. The procedure steps should include the hazards associated with each process. The procedural steps should state that a field verification check has been conducted to ensure the accuracy of the PHA. The check must verify that the hazards are controlled. Again, a JSA is not explicitly called out. Still, the same steps used in a JSA are required for 1910.119 according to the letter of interpretation signed by John B. Miles JR, Compliance Program Assistance Director.
Occupational Safety and Health Review Board Disicions
Take a second look at the recommended safety and health program practices. This is to see how hazard identification and assessment are mentioned within the guidelines. It might be necessary to implement the practices discussed within the guidelines. Accordingly, I would be inclined to believe that a compliance officer may invoke the general duty clause if some of the identified core elements were not in place. We can also look at the Secretary of Labor vs. Walmart District Center Distribution Center number 6016, where OSHA cited under the provisions of 1910.132 that the employer shall assess the workplace. OSHA alleged that Walmart violated the provision by failing to physically examine the distribution center to determine whether hazards necessitated the use of personal protective equipment. Walmart contended that they did not need to assess the specific location because they had a global hazard assessment reflective of many locations. Therefore, Walmart claimed they did not need to “assess the workplace” per the standard.
We see a similar charge in the Secretary of Labor versus White Wave, Inc. The Secretary of Labor alleged that the company did not assess the workplace to determine what hazards may require PPE. Specifically for the task of handling and pouring Darbyite Bleach. OSHA also alleged that a written certification was not on record for the company.
Federal OSHA may not explicitly require a job safety analysis. Still, I believe it will help you meet the requirements of other standards that call for hazard assessments. The job safety analysis consists of a step-by-step breakdown of the job. The hazards associated with these tasks are identified, and controls are then established to prevent these hazards from occurring. When implementing controls, employers should use hierarchy controls to prevent hazards. Starting first by eliminating hazards and relying on personal protective equipment only as a last resort when an employer cannot control the hazard. PPE is generally implemented along with administrative controls.