The First Step to a Good Site Assessment: Health and Safety Analysis | JS detained


[authors: Tom Sumner and Tim Masten]

1st edition


When you conduct a site visit, you have two objectives: to collect the information needed to make an appropriate decision and to return home safely to your family. While some dangers are easily visible and easily noticeable, others are hidden. Whether it’s a roofing assessment or a major fire at a manufacturing plant, it’s essential to be properly prepared for site hazards with access equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). ) adequate. But how do you know what to plan for to ensure a safe site visit?

You may have heard of Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA), Workplace Hazard Assessment (WHA), Workplace Safety Analysis, tasks (JSA) or something else. Whatever terminology is used, they all boil down to the same thing: integrating accepted safety and health principles and practices into a particular task or operation. In this article, we will refer to this procedure as JSA. The goal of the JSA is to identify potential hazards and mitigate their exposure through control methods that establish the safest way to perform each job task. A JSA focuses on the relationship between worker, task, tools, and work environment.

Benefits of a safe and healthy workplace

A safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, but can also reduce injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and boost morale employees. For insurance professionals, an assignment can often involve inspecting a property that has suffered building damage, which presents hazards and potential hazards that are constantly changing and unique to each project site.

By regularly conducting a JSA before working on each project, safety is improved while meeting federal worker protection standards. OSHA’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.132(d)(1)&(2) states:

“The employer must assess the workplace to determine if any hazards exist or are likely to be present requiring the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).”

… and

“The employer must verify that the required workplace risk assessment has been carried out by means of a written attestation which identifies the workplace being assessed; the person certifying that the assessment has been carried out; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a risk assessment certification.

OSHA requires a written statement that the risk assessment has been performed. Although there is no requirement that the hazard assessment itself be written, most professionals recommend that written documentation of the actual assessment is best practice.

Figure 1 – Site of loss after a hurricane

Creating a Job Safety Analysis

Effective risk management begins with identifying and addressing hazards before incidents occur. The challenges of completing a JSA often prevent companies from completing them. Without a solid understanding of the hazards and risks your employees face in the tasks they perform every day, it’s hard to stay consistent with safety.

Here are the steps to carry out an in-depth analysis of a construction site:

  1. Identify and document all business tasks or categories of business tasks that will be included in the process. Be thorough and detailed; list each step of the process in order.

  2. Identify and document the hazards associated with each task or category of tasks. Consider all types of potential hazards: physical, chemical and environmental.

  3. Using the hierarchy of controls as shown in the diagram below. Identify and document the controls that should be used to control any identified hazard. It may be necessary to list multiple controls for a single step in the process.

  4. Identify and document any required training or general PPE required for the identified tasks and any other general control measures needed.

  5. List all JSA contributors. The JSA process should be a collaborative effort between the supervisor or principal investigator and the staff who will perform the identified task(s).

How to identify potential hazards

Once these preliminary steps have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified. Based on work observations, knowledge of the causes of accidents and injuries, and personal experience, list the things that could go wrong at each step. To help you identify potential hazards, consider questions such as:

  • Can a body part get caught in or between objects?

  • Are the tools, machines or equipment dangerous?

  • Can the worker come into dangerous contact with moving objects?

  • Can the worker slip, trip or fall?

  • Can the worker be strained by lifting, pushing or pulling?

  • Is the worker exposed to extreme heat or cold?

  • Is excessive noise or vibration a problem?

  • Is there a danger from falling objects?

  • Is lighting a problem?

  • Can weather conditions affect safety?

  • Is harmful radiation a possibility? (including sun exposure)

  • Can we come into contact with hot, toxic or caustic products?

  • Are there dusts, fumes, mists or vapors in the air?

  • Is there a risk of asbestos being disturbed?

  • Are there other contractors on site performing unsafe acts?

A job hazard analysis is an exercise in detective work. Your goal is to discover the following:

What can go wrong? For example, when determining the age of the property, you may need to be concerned about asbestos, lead-based paint, or mold.

What are the consequences? A fall from a ladder can have immediate consequences. By using the correct ladder, inspecting it for flaws, placing it on a flat, solid surface, and applying the “three-point contact” rule, you can better mitigate the consequences of a fall. Prolonged exposure to asbestos, lead-based paint, or mold can have long-term consequences. Following proper protocols during renovation or repair, when disturbing potential or known materials containing these hazards, reduces the risk of health impacts later.

How could this happen? Unforeseen problems can arise at any time; even a task as simple as an attic inspection cannot be overlooked. Floors can cave in and attics can be cramped and dangerously hot spaces. Nails hidden in insulation and disease-carrying bats could also present health and safety issues.

What are the other contributing factors? Accidents are rarely the result of one action and are more often the result of several sequential failures of procedural systems. Stay on top of all things including the cleanliness and organization of work sites, which could indicate a weakness in discipline and safety.

What is the probability that the hazard will occur? Experience is crucial to fully assess this issue. Contact another expert for assistance if you come across anything new that poses a potential health and safety threat.

Figure 2 – Disaster site after structural fire

To make your job hazard analysis useful, document the answers to these questions in a consistent way. Describing a hazard in this way helps to ensure that your efforts to eliminate the hazard and implement hazard controls help target the most significant contributors to the issue at hand. Good hazard scenarios describe:

• Where it happens (Environment),

• Who or what is it happening to (exposure),

• What precipitates the danger (Trigger),

• The result that would occur if this happened (consequence), and;

• Any other contributing factors.

How to minimize or prevent the hazard(s)

The hierarchy of control creates a systematic approach to managing safety in your workplace by providing a structure for selecting the most effective control measures that eliminate or reduce the risk of certain hazards arising from business operations.

The control hierarchy has six levels of control measures, with the most effective measure at the top of the hierarchy and the least effective at the bottom. You always start at the top of the hierarchy board and then work your way down.

The hierarchy of control involves these important steps:

  1. Elimination – completely removes the cause of the hazard (eg performing hazardous work in a non-hazardous manner). This may include using a fixed ladder system that is in good condition to access a roof as opposed to using an extension ladder.

  2. Substitution – controls the hazard by replacing it with a less risky means of achieving the same result (eg replacing a harsh chemical solvent used to clean equipment with a non-hazardous cleaner/degreaser).

  3. Isolation – separates the hazard from those at risk by isolating it (e.g. lockout/tagout procedures that de-energize a piece of equipment).

  4. Engineering – using engineering controls (ie. physical changes, to reduce any remaining risk – for example, redesigning a machine by adding guards or introducing machinery that eliminates the hazard – for example, using exhaust fans to extract atmospheric hazards).

  5. Administration – use administrative controls to reduce risk (for example, install signs or rotate tasks).

  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – require your employees to wear PPE (for example, provide gloves, earplugs, goggles, respirators, iridescent vests, steel-toed shoes and ensure that employees are trained in the use, care and maintenance of all PPE while always inspecting before use).

To note: The use of PPE to control hazards should always be the last resort. Do not select a control based on ease of implementation.

Figure 3 – Hierarchy of control

The circumstances and environment of project sites are often in a state of constant change. In a short time, several rooms or even entire floors of damaged material can be torn out. When any aspect of a job site changes with respect to new materials, equipment, methods or environments that could cause a hazard, which would require a JSA to be performed again.

If a serious accident occurs at the site, a new JSA can help identify the cause of the accident and determine methods to prevent any future incidents.


Remember that not all hazards are immediately apparent and may be undetectable by site and smell alone. Safety scans are not an occasional thing, they are an integral part of the assessment process and should be done properly. Asking the right questions, considering possible outcomes, and following necessary safety protocols during every site inspection ensures compliance and reduces risk, allowing for effective site assessment.



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