Health and Safety ReportVolume 15, Issue 11

On Topic

Job Safety Analysis - The Proactive Approachprint this article

Celine’s job includes filling propane tanks used for backyard barbecues. The task seems simple enough but when the process is broken down into steps, beginning from the time the customer puts their tank down at the filling station to when she hands them the freshly filled tank, it becomes clear that the job involves a number of hazards. Potential exposure to flammable gas, working with gas under pressure, and back strain from lifting the tanks are just a few. Performing a job safety analysis for each job or process is a proactive approach to workplace health and safety, allowing you to identify hazards and determine the safest way to complete the work or process.

Initial benefits from developing a job safety analysis will become clear in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected hazards and increase the job knowledge of those participating. Safety and health awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of safe work procedures is promoted.

It’s up to employers to protect the health and ensure the safety of their employees. This responsibility includes keeping employees informed of workplace hazards and providing the procedures and equipment necessary to protect them. By assessing health and safety risks and developing safety procedures they can eliminate or mitigate these risks before anyone gets harmed.


  1. Select the job to be analyzed

Ideally all jobs should undergo a job safety analysis which should be revised whenever there is change to the process. When selecting the jobs that need to be analyzed first, base your decision on factors such as accident frequency and severity, the potential for severe injury or illness, newly established jobs, modified jobs and infrequently performed jobs. The most critical should be examined first.

  1. Break the job down into a sequence of steps

A job step is defined as a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work. Consider what is done rather than how it’s done; for example, putting the propane tank on to the filling scale. Generally, most jobs can be described in less than ten steps. Keep the steps in their correct sequence because any step that is out of order may miss serious potential hazards or introduce hazards which do not actually exist. This step is usually completed through job observation, which should be completed during normal times and operations. Collaboration is important and the worker, supervisor and health and safety representative/committee member should review the analysis to ensure all steps have been identified and in the correct order.

  1. Identify potential hazards

The job hazard identification process is also a collaborative effort of both workers and supervisors. Once the basic steps have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified at each step. Based on observations of the job, knowledge of accident and injury causes, and personal experience, list the things that could go wrong at each step. It’s important to get the input of workers who have experience in that job and to consider all categories of hazards – physical, biological, chemical, ergonomic and psychosocial.

  1. Determine the preventative measures

The final stage in a job safety analysis is to determine ways to eliminate or control the hazards that were identified.  This may include changing or modifying processes, improving the environment, or substituting with a less hazardous substance or changing the tools being used. If the hazard can’t be eliminated, controls should be investigated to avoid contact or exposure by using enclosures, machine guards, worker booths or other forms of containment. Reviewing work processes and procedures should also be considered. This can involve modifying, or changing steps of the job that may be hazardous, or adding steps to the process.

Lastly, if there are no other possible solutions you can consider methods to reduce exposure to the hazards, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These measures are the least effective and should only be used if no other solutions are possible. You can also reduce the severity of an accident by providing emergency facilities such as eyewash stations.

Discussing and sharing the information

An effective job safety analysis covers all aspects of a specific task. Workers performing the job as well as the supervisor and a representative from the health and safety committee should participate in the development of a comprehensive job safety analysis. Once the analysis is completed, be sure to communicate the results to all workers who are, or will be, performing that job.

Proactive vs reactive

Taking the time upfront to learn about the hazards of a job and address them is one of the best ways to prevent the pain and suffering of work-related injuries and illnesses.


CCOHS Resources:

Tips and Tools

A Closer Look at Preventing Computer Vision Syndromeprint this article

It starts the minute we wake up to our smartphone’s alarm and check the screen. Our close visual relationship with our electronic devices has begun and will continue until we go to sleep. The more we focus our eyesight on computers and electronic devices, the more strain our eyes endure. The term computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain refers to vision problems related to working on computer-related (including desktop, laptop and tablets) and other electronic display-related (e.g. smartphones, smartwatches and e-readers) devices. CVS includes eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.

Many workers spend 7 hours a day on a computer and, according to a State University of New York Study, many individuals spend more than 10 hours per day viewing these displays, frequently without adequate breaks.

Here are some tips for preventing or reducing the symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

Make sure that you’re wearing the right glasses for the job

If you wear glasses for distance vision, reading or both, they may not provide the most efficient vision for viewing your computer screen, which is about 50 to 75 cm (20 to 30 inches) from your eyes. Tell your optometrist about your job tasks and ask about special lenses to help your eyes focus on the computer monitor.  The right glasses can help to minimize neck and eye strain.

Adjusting your computer screen

Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when their eyes are looking slightly downward. Ideally then, the height of the computer screen should be just below eye level as measured from user’s head in relation to the center of the screen.  The screen should also be 50-75 cm in front of the body.

The screen itself can also be adjusted. Blue light from LED and fluorescent lighting as well as monitors, tablets and mobile devices can negatively affect your vision over the long term. Special lens tints and coatings for glasses can reduce the impact of blue light. Computer screen glare can be minimized by using a glare reduction filter, repositioning your screen, or using drapes, shades or blinds. Dirt and fingerprints increase glare and reduce clarity, so keep your screen clean.

Remember your chair

Proper body positioning for computer use can help you stay comfortable. Make sure the chair is adjusted for your body, and the desk or work space you are using.

Rest your eyes

Remember to give your eyes a break throughout the day; ideally for 15 minutes away from the screen after every two hours of continuous screen use. You can use this time to stretch your legs, make phone calls or consult with co-workers. Another technique for resting the eyes is for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look 6 m (20 feet) into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus.

The importance of blinking

It’s easy to forget but make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist and minimizes your chances of developing dry eye when using a computer.

Positioning reference materials

Position your documents and reference materials above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, use a document holder beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents to minimize the amount you need to move your head to look from the document to the screen.

Screens are deeply entrenched in our work and in our lives and we need to take care of our eyes. Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent and reduce the development of the symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome.




Impairment in the Workplace: What You Need to Knowprint this article

This month’s featured podcast is an interview with CCOHS Senior Technical Specialist Jan Chappel, who discusses workplace impairment and what employers can do to prepare before the sale and use of recreational cannabis becomes legal.

Feature Podcast: Impairment in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

In this episode, Jan Chappel, Senior Technical Specialist at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) addresses workplace impairment; what it is, why workplaces need to be concerned about it, and what employers can do right now to prepare before the sale and use of recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada in 2018.

The podcast runs 6:28 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


Encore Podcast: Addressing Work-related Stress

This podcast discusses the causes of a stressful workplace, and offers helpful tips on how workers can avoid or minimize stress, and what employers can do to address this important issue.

The podcast runs 5:19 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!

See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode



Plan, Prepare, Prevent, Protect: Brand New Flu Portal is Liveprint this article

Are you prepared for flu season or an infectious disease outbreak?  Flu season may not yet be upon us but a brand new website that offers advice and useful tools to help you plan, prepare, prevent and protect against infectious disease outbreaks is live and online.

The Flu and Infectious Disease and Outbreaks web portal from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides tools and resources including posters, publications, fact sheets, flyers, stickers, mobile apps, checklists, articles, and training to help workplaces, families and communities minimize the impact of flu and infectious disease outbreaks.

Organized by topic, audience (workplace, home, and community) and resource type this mobile-friendly website is a gateway to information and resources from across Canada on topics including continuity planning, infection prevention and control, and personal protective equipment.

Visit the Flu and Infectious Disease and Outbreaks web portal.


Hazard Highlight

Fatal Ammonia Leak at Municipal Arenaprint this article

Three workers in Fernie, British Columbia lost their lives due to an ammonia leak at the municipal arena and 95 residents living near the arena were evacuated from their homes for five days. The exact cause of the leak has not yet been determined but this incident highlights the need to understand ammonia and the risks that come with its use in the workplace.

What is ammonia?

Ammonia is a toxic chemical commonly found in refrigerants, cleaning products, and fertilizers. It is naturally found as a gas, but it can be pressurized and stored or transported as liquid. . Exposure to a high concentration of ammonia can be fatal. Ammonia has the following characteristics:

  • Colourless with a distinct strong odour. However, repeated exposure reduces your ability to smell the gas. This odour fatigue can occur even if the levels of the gas are high.
  • As a gas, it may explode if heated. High concentrations can be a fire and explosion hazard, especially in confined areas.
  • Very toxic and can be fatal if inhaled.
  • Corrosive to the respiratory tract, and causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • May cause frost bite.

How workers are exposed

Ammonia is most commonly found on farms, in refrigeration systems and in fertilizers and cleaners. On farms, ammonia gas is generated by compost piles on mushroom farms. Manure pits and any indoor or confined spaces where farm animals are kept can contain ammonia gas. Ice rinks and ice manufacturing plants use liquid ammonia in their refrigeration systems. If this liquefied ammonia leaks, it becomes a gas.  In its liquid form, ammonia is often diluted and combined with other chemicals and found in fertilizers and cleaning products.

The risks

The highest risk comes from breathing the gas, which can be fatal. The level of risk depends on the concentration of ammonia and the length of exposure time. In low concentrations, exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and respiratory system. It can also cause chemical and freezing burns on the skin. At high concentration, ammonia gas can be fatal within a few breaths.

How to reduce the risks

Controlling the risks and hazards in the workplace can reduce the potential for injury or disease. The most effective way to manage the risk of exposure to ammonia is to eliminate the source of exposure. If that’s not possible, there are other control measures to use. When choosing control measures, start by asking yourself these questions, listed in order of effectiveness.

  1. Elimination or substitution
    • Can a less hazardous material be used?
  1. Engineering controls
    • Can a process that generates less ammonia be used?
    • Can ventilation be improved?
    • Can ammonia-producing tasks be enclosed by barriers that prevent gas from leaking into other areas of the workplace?
  1. Administrative controls
    • Can warning signs be posted in the work area?
    • Can signs explaining ammonia exposure symptoms be posted?
    • Can written safe work procedures be posted?
    • Can a 24-hour continuous ammonia monitor be connected to an alarm system?
  1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Do workers have the required respirators, eye wear, and protective clothing?
    • Has personal protective equipment been tested to make sure it is working properly?

If there’s an ammonia leak, notify a supervisor immediately. Clear the area, and begin emergency procedures.



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