HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Oct. 31, 2019) – As part of the Huntsville Center Safety and Occupational Health Office’s recently developed SharePoint collaborative site, the interactive Position Hazard Analysis system is already revealing valuable safety data.
The purpose of the Position Hazard Analysis, or PHA, is to give employees a way to identify hazards associated with their jobs and learn about the controls they and their supervisors can implement to mitigate those hazards. An example of a hazard would be the possibility of sustaining an injury due to lifting. The controls would include knowing one’s limitations, lifting objects using one’s legs, and getting help from a co-worker when lifting heavy objects.
The PHA requirement is nothing new, but Safety Manager Kyle Shireman said this “whole different approach” is giving the Safety Office fresh insights that could benefit employees.
“Before, the process was that a supervisor would give you a PHA, and you reviewed and signed it,” said Shireman. “Now you answer questions and you tell us what you’re doing versus us telling you what you’re doing."
The new PHA is easy for both the employee and the supervisor, quickly providing useful information to the safety office, said Kellie Williams, Huntsville Center’s chief of Safety and Occupational Health.
“There have been a couple of hiccups as we rolled it out, but overall the response has been very positive,” she said. It simplifies the process and provides data back to us about anyone doing hazardous activities who might need training, medical surveillance or safety equipment.”
Shireman said that, by listening to the employees, the PHA is already revealing valuable new information such as the need for additional training and equipment that employees previously did not know they needed.
“With our new automated process that allows the employees to tell us what they are exposed to, we can now tailor our training needs based on the input of the employee,” Shireman said. “With it being automated as well, we can effectively analyze and trend our data to help show any gaps in our programs, if any. It has been eye-opening since the birth of the program with the amount of information we have been able to gather.
“Given that information,” he added, “we have already begun to revamp our programs to ensure we meet all regulations based on the hazards that are presented to our team.”
The Safety Office has conducted three 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration Construction Safety Class sessions this year and is getting ready to conduct another one in December.
“Training our employees on the hazards, and finding out the requirement from both the supervisor and employee is the next step,” Shireman said. “So, by doing the PHA this way, we’ve got the data. Now we can do the research, determine the need, and develop the training and program as required.
“It’s been big,” Shireman added. “Now we can see across the whole Center who requires confined space training, who does this and who does that. And with that information we can then build our programs accordingly.”
Williams and Shireman both said the new PHA format is attracting interest throughout the Corps.
“At least 10 districts have requested this information,” Williams said. “They want it, and now ACE-IT is requesting Headquarters to make this an enterprise standard.”