Job Hazard Analysis

At a Glance

What it is

A tool to identify hazards associated with a particular job or task. A dry run of an experiment is one of the most notable types of JHAs. Hazards are identified and recorded. Control measures are developed for each hazard.

Who's involved

  • Experienced lab workers
  • Primary investigators

When to use

  • Projects where human error could lead to severe accident or injury
  • Research new to the lab
  • Any process requiring written instructions
  • Laboratory work to which students are being newly-introduced

Training required

Beginners or those not familiar with the hazards involved need guidance.


Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) identifies hazards based on a job or task. This tool focuses on the relationship between the researcher, the task to be done, the tools needed to complete the task, and the work environment where the task will be performed.

A JHA can be conducted on any laboratory research study. It works well in academic labs to identify potential chemical and physical hazards so corrective and preventative actions or control measures can be implemented to reduce accidents, incidents, and near-misses.

Learn more about factors to assess when identifying hazards and common hazards for research activities.

A well-designed JHA should include:

  • Where the hazard is happening (the environment)
  • Who or what it's happening to (the exposure)
  • What precipitates the hazard (the trigger)
  • The outcome that would occur should it happen (the consequence)
  • Additional contributing factors (e.g., fatigue, time, weather)

The JHA is a valuable tool to develop and provide consistent training to employees and students by supplying written steps required to safely perform tasks. As with any hazard assessment, JHAs should be periodically reviewed. It is particularly important to review when a near-miss or illness/injury occurs.

Consider holding weekly group meetings to discuss hazards known to exist in current work and surroundings. This is also an opportunity to review accident histories at your institution, and locate related procedures and known problems with the processes or chemicals being used through a literature search. Brainstorming sessions can produce ideas for eliminating or controlling those hazards. These control measures should be incorporated into the JHA.

How to Conduct a Job Hazard Analysis

1. Involve people working in the lab.

The JHA should be developed in collaboration with the people performing the work from the beginning. Involving researchers in the process helps to minimize oversights. (People on the "frontline" have the best understanding of their processes.)

2. Review accident history and literature.

Key items to review include related accidents and illnesses, losses that required repair or replacement, and near-misses.

3. Conduct a preliminary review.

Review current tasks and conditions weekly. Brainstorm ideas to eliminate or mitigate hazards. Stop work if immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) hazards are uncovered during the review. Work must cease until proper controls can be implemented to protect the workers.

4. List, rank, and set priorities.

Research that involves hazards with unacceptable risks (based on high probability of occurrence and severity of consequence) should take top priority for analysis.

Risk is the probability that a hazard will result in an adverse consequence. Assessing risk helps to determine the proper mitigation strategy and priorities. Risk ratings and scaling can show where additional resources are required.

5. Assign risk.

Assigning numerical values to risk must be done by individuals with a thorough knowledge of the hazard.

6. Outline tasks and steps.

Nearly every research project can be broken down into tasks or steps. Record information to describe each task and step. Two useful ways to do this:

  • Have someone perform each task and observe the steps, or
  • Perform a dry run of the process.

Review the steps with the research group to ensure nothing was omitted.


Avoid making your steps so detailed that they become cumbersome or so broad that you overlook essential steps.


There are several advantages to using a job hazard analysis due to its task-based nature.

  • Hazards are identified prior to work allowing for risk to be determined and controls to be implemented.
  • Uniform instructions for controlling routine lab operations with known hazards.
  • Facilitates more consistent training of new lab personnel and identifies training deficiencies.
  • Some hazards identified during the preparation of a JHA can be completely eliminated during the planning phase.
  • The steps of a completed JHA translate readily into an experimental procedure.


  • Without careful attention to detail, steps can be missed and hazards may be overlooked.
  • Assigning risk to determine the level of control can be difficult. Risk is perceived differently by individuals based on their experience, knowledge, and tolerance level.

This collection of methods and tools for assessing hazards in research laboratories is based on the publication, Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories [PDF]. The guide was published in 2015 by the Hazard Identification and Evaluation Task Force of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Chemical Safety in response to a recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

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