What's a worksite analysis and how often should it be done?
A worksite analysis means that managers and employees analyze all worksite conditions to identify and eliminate existing or potential hazards. There should be a comprehensive, baseline survey, with a system in place for periodic updates.
To help in conducting a worksite analysis, you can:
- Request a free OSHA consultation visit
- Become aware of hazards in your industry
- Create safety teams
- Encourage employee reporting of hazards
- Have an adequate system for reporting hazards
- Have trained personnel conduct inspections of the worksite and correct hazards
- Ensure that any changes in process or new hazards are reviewed
- Seek assistance from safety and health experts
Worksite analysis involves a variety of worksite examinations to identify not only existing hazards, but also conditions and operations in which changes might create hazards. Effective management actively analyzes the work and the worksite, to anticipate and prevent harmful occurrences.
Here’s a suggested plan to identify all worksite hazards:
- Conduct a comprehensive, baseline survey for safety and health and periodic, comprehensive update surveys.
- Change analysis of planned and new facilities, processes, materials, and equipment.
- Perform routine job hazard analyses.
- Conduct periodic and daily safety and health inspections of the workplace.
These four major actions form the basis from which good hazard prevention and control can develop:
For small businesses, OSHA-funded, state-run consultation services can conduct a comprehensive survey at no cost. Many workers’ compensation carriers and other insurance companies offer expert services to help their clients evaluate safety and health hazards. Numerous private consultants provide a variety of safety and health expert services. Larger businesses may find the needed expertise at the company or corporate level.
For the industrial hygiene survey, at a minimum, all chemicals and hazardous materials in the plant should be inventoried, the hazard communication program should be reviewed, and air samples analyzed. For many industries, a survey of noise levels, a review of the respirator program, and a review of ergonomic risk factors are needed.
Anytime something new is brought into the workplace, whether it be a piece of equipment, different materials, a new process, or an entirely new building, new hazards may unintentionally be introduced. Before considering a change for a worksite, it should be analyzed thoroughly beforehand. Change analysis helps in heading off a problem before it develops.
You may find change analysis useful when:
- Building or leasing a new facility.
- Installing new equipment.
- Using new materials.
- Starting up new processes.
- Staffing changes occur.
Hazard analysis techniques can be quite complex. While this is necessary in some cases, frequently a basic, step-by-step review of the operation is sufficient. One of the most commonly used techniques is the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). Jobs that were initially designed with safety in mind may now include hazards or improper operations. When done for every job, this analysis periodically puts processes back on the safety track.
Other, more sophisticated techniques are called for when there are complex risks involved. These techniques include: WHAT-IF Checklist, Hazard and Operability Study, Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, and Fault Tree Analysis.
Safety and Health Inspections
Routine site safety and health inspections are designed to catch hazards missed at other stages. This type of inspection should be done at regular intervals, generally on a weekly basis. In addition, procedures should be established that provide a daily inspection of the work area.
Important things to remember about inspections are:
- You can use a checklist already developed or make your own, based on:
- Past problems.
- Standards that apply to your industry.
- Input from everyone involved.
- Your company's safety practices or rules.
Information from inspections should be used to improve the hazard prevention and control program.
- Inspections should cover every part of the worksite.
- They should be done at regular intervals.
- In-house inspectors should be trained to recognize and control hazards.
- Identified hazards should be tracked to correction.
Catching Hazards that Escape Controls
After hazards are recognized and controls are put in place, additional analysis tools can help ensure that the controls stay in place and other hazards don’t appear. These other tools include:
- Employee reports of hazards.
- Accident and incident investigations.
- Injury and illness trend analysis.
Employee Reports of Hazards
Employees play a key role in discovering and controlling hazards that may develop – or that already exist – in the workplace. A reliable system for employee reporting is an important element of an effective safety and health system. The workplace must not only encourage reporting, but must value it.
It is often helpful to establish multiple ways to report hazards so that, depending on comfort level and the nature of the issue, there are several avenues to get concerns addressed. Examples include: supervisor chain of command, safety and health committee member, voice mail box and a suggestion box.
An effective reporting system needs:
- A policy that encourages employees to report safety and health concerns,
- Timely and appropriate responses to the reporting employee,
- Timely and appropriate action where valid concerns exists,
- Tracking of required hazard correction,
- Protection of reporting employees from any type of reprisal or harassment.
Accident/incident investigation is another tool for uncovering hazards that were missed earlier or that slipped by the planned controls. But it’s only useful when the process is positive and focuses on finding the root cause, not someone to blame!
All accidents and incidents should be investigated. "Near-misses" are considered an incident, because, given a slight change in time or position, injury or damage could have occurred.
Six key questions should be answered in the accident investigation and report: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Thorough interviews with everyone involved are necessary.
The primary purpose of the accident/incident investigation is to prevent future occurrences. Therefore, the results of the investigation should be used to initiate corrective action.
The final action recommended under Worksite Analysis is analysis of injury and illness trends over time, so that patterns with common causes can be identified and prevented. Review of the OSHA injury and illness forms is the most common form of pattern analysis, but other records of hazards can be analyzed for patterns. Examples are inspection records and employee hazard reporting records.
- Injury and Illness Records Analysis:
- Since there must be enough information for patterns to emerge, small sites may require a review of 3-5 years of records. Larger sites may find useful trends yearly, quarterly, or monthly.
- When analyzing injury and illness records, look for similar injuries and illnesses. These generally indicate a lack of hazard controls. Look for where the injury or illness occurred, what type of work was being done, time of day, or type of equipment.
- Analysis of Other Records:
- Repeat hazards, just like repeat injuries or illnesses, mean that controls are not working. And, patterns in hazard identification records can show up over shorter periods of time than accidents or incidents. Upgrading a control may involve something as basic as improving communication or accountability.
Hazards found during worksite analysis should be reviewed to determine what failure in the safety and health system permitted the hazard to occur. The system failure should then be corrected to ensure that similar hazards do not reoccur.