WHAT ARE THEY?
A hazard is the potential for harm. In practical terms, a hazard often is associated with a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, can result in an injury or illness. Identifying hazards and eliminating or controlling them as early as possible will help prevent injuries and illnesses. Potential hazards may be physical or health-related. Examples of physical hazards include moving objects, rolling or pinching objects, electrical connections and sharp edges. Examples of health hazards include overexposure to harmful dusts or chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect their employees from workplace hazards that can cause injury. The preferred way to do this is through engineering controls or work practice and administrative controls to eliminate or manage hazards to the greatest extent possible. For example, building a barrier between the hazard and the employees is an engineering control; changing the way in which employees perform their work is a work practice control. When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees and ensure its use. PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards. Examples of PPE include such items as gloves, foot and eye protection, protective hearing devices (earplugs, muffs), hard hats and respirators.
The main tool for determining hazards in the workplace and identifying appropriate controls and PPE to eliminate or mitigate the hazard is a Job Hazard Assessment, or JHA. Typically, one thinks of a job as an occupation, such as a welder, carpenter, plumber or electrician. In JHA, the word “job” refers to a given task that contains several steps. In this context, a job can be changing a defective ballast in a fluorescent light, applying paint to a wall or operating a leaf blower to remove grass from a sidewalk. A person in a particular occupation performs multiple tasks or jobs, and a particular task or job may be performed by multiple occupations. The purpose of the JHA is to assess each job performed within a facility in order to develop safe working procedures and to identify any PPE that may be necessary in order to ensure the safety of the person performing that job no matter what their occupation may be.
The conduct of the JHA is very straight-forward: A particular job is broken into the steps necessary to complete it in the order of typical sequence. For each step, the hazards (what can go wrong) associated with that step are identified without consideration of the PPE or other protective measures that may already be in place. Then the controls necessary to eliminate or mitigate the hazard are determined. A hierarchy of controls should be considered: Elimination (e.g., of a chemical hazard) THEN substitution (e.g., replacement of the chemical hazard with one that is less hazardous) THEN implementation of engineering controls (e.g., installation of a ventilation system to keep airborne concentrations of the chemical hazard below levels of concern) THEN administrative controls (e.g., use the chemical hazard only under certain conditions) THEN PPE (e.g., wear a respirator when using this chemical).
The completed JHAs associated with jobs performed at Palm Beach State College are listed below, usually in the form of the item of equipment associated with that job. Click on the item to access the JHA. Review the JHA so that you are familiar with the steps necessary to complete the job, the potential hazards associated with the job and the measures and PPE that you need to follow in order to complete the job without harm to you and your co-workers. Supervisors, be sure to use these JHAs as a training tool for both new hires and old hands, who may need a safety refresher. A JHA may need to be created or reassessed to accommodate any new job or after any incident involving the particular job, as well as any changes in equipment, operating procedures or environment that could affect occupational hazards. The workers performing the jobs and their supervisors are encouraged to contact the Safety & Risk Office at Palm Beach State College to advise of such changes and to offer any suggestions to correct or improve any particular existing JHA.