Wouldn’t it be nice to have a helpful tool for managing situations that you know in advance will be stressful or challenging? You know the feeling, the night before a big presentation or knowing that in a few days you will have to spend a holiday with family that just can’t get along? Or maybe you need to go shopping today, but you are on lockdown.

In the world of safety, we have a tool to control or eliminate hazards for tasks that are performed infrequently, or where a standard operating procedure does not exist. We call this tool a Job Safety Analysis (JSA).

A JSA does three things:

  1. Identifies the task.
  2. Identifies the hazards of each task.
  3. Identifies the controls to manage or eliminate the hazards of each task.

Simply put, you have three columns; one for the task, the second for the hazards and the third for the controls for the hazards.

I often apply this method to my personal life. Whenever I come across a difficult situation, I turn to this method to help me stay on course. Let’s look at an example of how a JSA can help outside the workplace.

Identify the Task

Going to Uncle Bob’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.

Identify the Hazard

Uncle Bob is not an easy person to be around for the following reasons:

  1. He asks too many personal questions.
  2. He pushes his personal beliefs onto everyone and criticizes you if you have opposing beliefs.
  3. He always overcooks the turkey and gets offended if call him out on it.

Controlling the Hazards

  1. When Uncle Bob beings probing into your personal life, try to change the topic or engage in another topic with the rest of the family (safety in numbers).
  2. Stay neutral. Don’t encourage him by falling into the trap of debate on a subject that just isn’t worth debating.
  3. Lots of gravy!

There are jobs that are hazardous by nature. No matter how well you plan, you will always work as safely as possible and use every tool in your toolbox to manage those risks. Life is not any different. But if you plan and identify those risks, you reduce the chance of becoming injured, or at the very least, making it through another holiday with Uncle Bob!


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