Job Safety Analysis

Ag Safety Instruction

Ag Safety Instruction

(Source: Penn State University Ag Safety & Health)

Use the following format to cite this article:

Job safety analysis. (2013) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from


Every job has its hazards, but agricultural work consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous occupations. One of the most effective ways to improve workplace safety is to conduct a review of workplace hazards and the potential injuries that could result from the hazards. A job safety analysis (JSA), sometimes referred to as job hazard analysis (JHA), is a written protocol that identifies existing or potential hazards associated with each step or task within a particular job and integrates safety and health solutions to reduce exposure to those risks. 

An effective JSA:

  • identifies hazards, 
  • involves workers in the identification of potential risks related to their jobs, 
  • provides a basis for training workers in safe operating procedures, 
  • increases awareness of safety practices in the workplace, 
  • decreases the number of injury-related absences, and
  • lowers costs for workers’ compensation claims.

After a JSA is completed, it can be used as a training resource in two ways:

  • as a tool with new employees to review their jobs and provide information about mandatory safety practices
  • as a refresher on hazards and recommended safety considerations when completing infrequent or unfamiliar tasks

Ultimately, the final result of a JSA should be a safe, productive, and efficient work environment on the farm or ranch. A current, complete JSA will foster communication as well as improve worker safety and health.

Steps Involved in Developing a JSA

There are four basic steps in the JSA process:

  1. Selecting the job
  2. Breaking down the job into steps
  3. Identifying potential hazards
  4. Developing solutions and recommended actions

Step One: Selecting the Job

  • Develop a JSA for all jobs, but give priority to those jobs in which workers have been injured or have a greater risk of injury.
  • When a new job is introduced at your farm or ranch, complete a JSA and use the JSA document to train your workers on safe operating procedures for the job.

Step Two: Break Down the Job into Steps

  • Break the job into discrete steps or tasks.

    • At this point, you are identifying what is done, not how it is done.
    • Include only four to nine steps in a job description, and make sure they are neither too detailed nor too general. If more than 10 steps are necessary to define a job, consider dividing the job into two segments, each with its own JSA.    
  • Identify the steps in a job in several ways:

    • Observe an experienced worker completing the job during a regularly scheduled time and at the usual location.
    • Ask workers to write the steps they take when completing the job. Make sure workers understand while developing a JSA that this process is not about their job performance but about determining the actions involved in completing a job. Consider workers’ suggestions for improving steps.
    • Consult multiple people familiar with a job to ensure that all steps are accounted for and listed in the correct sequence.
  • Begin the definition of each step with an action word and list steps in successive order.

Additionally, take note of the following:

  • unsafe shortcuts 
  • necessary equipment maintenance
  • the physical space where the job is completed

Step Three: Identify Potential Hazards

  • Identify hazards and any actions or conditions in each step of the job that could lead to an injury. It may be useful to use a hazard-inspection form as a tool to identify the potential hazards.
  • Evaluate and discuss each potential hazard, identifying the types of injuries that might occur. Be sure to include those hazards that have a low occurrence rate or are unlikely to happen. The following questions can help you identify potential hazards or problems associated with a job or steps in a job:

    • Is the worker at risk for a slip, trip, or fall?
    • Is the worker exposed to fumes or dust?
    • Does the equipment or machinery used pose any hazards? Are there missing shields or guards, exposed pinch points, possible crush points, or potential entanglement areas?
    • Do any of the hand or power tools pose any hazards? Does a tool have missing shields or guards, a frayed power cord, or cracked handles? Does the tool lack a ground fault interrupt?
    • Could a worker sustain an injury from lifting, pushing, or pulling?
    • Is the worker exposed to excessive noise or vibration?
    • Are there environmental issues, such as weather, that could affect the safeness of the job?
    • Are workers wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job?
    • Is there adequate lighting in the work space?

Step Four: Develop Solutions and Recommended Actions

  • Determine ways to eliminate, control, or minimize the identified hazards. Ideally, you should attempt to eliminate the hazard by modifying the process, changing the equipment, or improving the environmental conditions. If you cannot eliminate the hazard, look for solutions that control or minimize the workers’ exposure to the risk. These solutions may require the use of enclosures, guards, shields, or designated work areas.
  • Provide a recommended action for each step, and state specifically how the step should be completed. For example, you may phrase a step as follows: “When lifting a box from the floor to the counter, use your leg muscles to accomplish the lift.” Identify PPE, hand signals, and any additional safety recommendations, such as lockout procedures, for each step.

Evaluation and Follow-Up

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the JSA after any injury or illness that occurs as a result of the execution of a job.
  • Review the causes of the injury or illness, and change the procedures or add safety measures as appropriate.
  • When you introduce new equipment, processes, or materials or make environmental changes, modify or update the JSA to reflect any changes.
  • Review all JSA changes with workers to ensure that everyone understands new procedures or preventative measures.

Final Recommendations

As you complete your JSA, pay close attention to the following details:

  • Be specific and carefully choose your words to describe each step thoroughly. Avoid using vague phrases, such as “be careful” or “use caution,” without specific guidance.
  • Investigate each job carefully to identify all potential hazards, especially those that you may consider less severe or that seem to have a low likelihood of occurring.
  • Fully describe the types and severity of hazards.
  • Align job steps and safety procedures so that each hazard or potential injury identified has a corresponding solution or mitigation strategy.

Sample JSA

You may find it helpful to review the completed JSA below—about hitching a tractor and a wagon—to better understand the JSA process.  

JSA Hitching

The following templates provide a starting point for developing a JSA:

  • Click here for Template #1 from Safe Manitoba.
  • Click here for Temple #2 from Penn State University.


Job Hazard Analysis JHA Infographic
(Source: BLR – Safety Summit)

Use the following format to cite this article:

Job safety analysis. (2013) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from





Job hazard analysis sample form. (n.d.) SAFE Work Workplace Safety and Health Division and Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba. Retrieved from

Job safety analysis. (2008). Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Retrieved from

Murphy, D. (2008) Managing farm safety and health presentation at the Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from

Sample written program for job safety analysis. (n.d.) Frankenmuth Insurance. Retrieved from


Reviewers, Contributors, and Summarized by
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University –
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University –
Cheryl Skjolaas, University of Wisconsin
Chuck V. Schwab, Iowa State University
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center –