It’s estimated that thousands of work-related injuries occur in the public refrigerated warehouse industry each year, which can have numerous negative connotations for a business. Injuries cannot only slow or halt operations altogether, but incidents can also lead to violations and fines from regulatory agencies.
The good news is, there’s plenty that can be done to control safety and limit the number of job related injuries; it all comes down to training employees properly and conducting a substantial Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to learn where a company is going wrong.
A JSA can help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by looking at your workplace operations, establishing proper job procedures, and ensuring that all employees are trained properly.
In the first quarter of 2016, the GCCA is releasing the “IARW Job Safety Analysis Template,” a practical guide to Job Safety Analysis, which will detail some of the measures a company should be doing.
The finished template will outline the proper way to perform a Job Safety Analysis that leads to a determination of recommended procedure or precaution in terms of acts or behavior.
Ken Hudson, Director of Environmental Health and Safety-Western Division for Lineage Logistics, believes that companies can help prevent injuries by looking at operations and establishing proper job procedures ensuring that all employees are trained properly.
“Performing a Job Safety Analysis allows facilities within the association to be involved in evaluating each job task to identify inherent hazards associated with the job tasks our employees are performing in an effort to eliminate or reduce the risk of injuries,” he says. “Companies that have remained faithful and disciplined to employee safety and have integrated safety as equals into all of their processes enjoy the many benefits of a total safety culture workplace.”
Annamarie Gibbs, CSP, ASP, CRIS, Senior Vice President, Manager, Risk Control Services for Lockton Companies, notes that the industry has a unique set of employee risks related to physical requirements and environmental conditions, which is why a JSA is a great risk assessment tool used to identify and control these out-of-the-ordinary exposures.
“The chief benefit of a JSA is a highly focused hazard assessment process by job task,” she explains. “It can and should be used as a resource for supervisors to train new employees; as a tool to control job steps; as a tool to systematically identify potential hazards and controls; as a benchmark for accident investigation; and as a tool for review of employee performance.”
A Solid Plan
Workplace hazards that can be eliminated or lessened with proper job safety analysis include slip and falls, accidents caused from forklift operations, cold environment, rack storage, and manual material handling.
According to Hudson, a JSA can be used for almost any task, from operating Material Handling Equipment (MHE) in the warehouse, to performing maintenance on an anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system.
For example, MHE operation can be very hazardous, so the first thing a JSA would recommend, in addition to ensuring the operator is properly trained, is to look at the type of equipment in operation, the environment in which it is operating, and any unique hazard that is presented to the operator.
“In addition to wearing freezer gear, gloves and insulated steel or composite toe boots, operators of high lift reach trucks may need to wear safety glasses to protect their eyes from the potential of falling debris when looking up while placing pallets in the racks,” Hudson notes. “An ammonia refrigeration technician who is draining oil from the system would take precautions such as knowing the location of the eyewash and safety shower, and knowing the escape route from the machine room. They would also know the requirements to wear specific PPE identified in the JSA such as a splash face shield, protective gauntlet gloves, and have their air purifying respirator available on their person if needed.”
The JSA should be tied directly to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) when assessing hazards and prescribing PPE for a job task. Once you know what the hazards are, you can reduce or eliminate them before an injury occurs.
“The JSAs are a way to get our frontline employees involved in the safety process. It allows us to utilize their expertise in each specific job task to identify the hazards, to apply administrative or engineering controls and to specify personal protective equipment to be used while performing the job task,” Hudson shares. “Once you know what the hazards are and how to protect your employees, you will enjoy a safer workplace with the likelihood of reduced injuries, reduced workers compensation costs, and increased worker productivity, which results in higher profitability.”
Reaching Out to Newbies
The training of new employees is extremely important in decreasing the number of workplace incidents, as new hires are often younger and less experienced than more veteran workers, who are more familiar with the equipment.
“The new employees often lack the training necessary to perform all job functions safely and efficiently in the new work environment,” Gibbs states. “The company’s safety culture is rarely fully understood by new employees and they may try ‘to prove themselves’ by taking unnecessary risks.”
That’s why she recommends providing a mentor for the new employee. The mentor should be someone who can provide one-onone training to ensure that standard practices and procedures, the acceptable methods of operation, and the overall safety culture are conveyed in a positive and correct manner.
“Arrange for the mentor to check on the new employee’s safety performance throughout the shift,” Gibbs offers. “Make sure the safety manager, the supervisor, and even the plant manager ‘check in’ as often as possible. This will make an impression on the importance of working safe.”
To protect the business – and the people who work there – each new hire should be trained to each job task with a standard operating procedure and the JSA prior to performing the job. Allow time for new employees to demonstrate the skills they have learned; don’t just expect one-time training and demonstration to be good enough.
“Training new employees with a JSA is a great training tool and allows them to become intimate with the job task and to know what hazards exist and what PPE is needed to protect themselves,” Hudson shares.
Current employees should also be receiving training and be subject to verification efforts, regardless of how long they have worked there. Still, your tenured employees are a great benefit in developing JSAs within your facility as they know the job tasks and hazards better than anyone else, so use their expertise to develop JSAs for each specific job task and use them to train your new employees.
“Get them involved in whatever safety activities are going on – rack safety, equipment inspections, audits, accident investigations, and safety training,” Gibbs says. “Don’t let the new or current employees think anything except that their safety performance is critical.”
Performing a JSA is like detective work. You need to ask what can go wrong, what are the hazards, what are the consequences and contributing factors, how could someone get injured, and what is the likelihood of occurrence.
“Develop the JSA by breaking it down stepby- step. Look for a safer way to do the job, describe each step of the job task, and take into consideration any administrative or engineering controls to reduce the risks of the job task with PPE being the last control measure” Hudson says. “Review your JSA on an annual basis; you may find that your job task may have changed or that you may have missed a step in the initial JSA. JSA should also be reviewed after a near miss or injury.”
The Job Safety Analysis Guide can be found under Resources-Publications at www.gcca.org.