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What's the difference between a safe operating procedure and a job safety analysis?

Q: I am in the process of developing a safe operating procedure for vehicle hoists. Could you please provide a clear explanation of the difference between a safe operating procedure and a job safety analysis?

A: A safe operating procedure (SOP) is a written document that provides step-by-step instructions on how to safely perform a task or activity in the workplace. It can also be referred to as a safe work procedure or safe work method statement (SWMS).

An SOP includes:

  • basic steps;
  • hazard identification;
  • safety procedures;
  • precautions; and
  • document control methods.

A job safety analysis (JSA) is a regular evaluation of a specific job. It is generally a one-page document that workers use to record specific conditions on the day the job is to be completed, which may affect how they will perform the job.

It is conducted to identify potential hazards involved with the job and to document how the job can be performed safely.

A JSA is usually created if:

  • there is no SOP or SWMS in place for the job; or
  • conditions change, meaning the SOP or SWMS needs to be reviewed.

JSAs are particularly important if conditions are different to what workers had anticipated when they arrived at a worksite.

Please refer to chapter S1 Safe Operating Procedures in the Health & Safety Handbook for more information.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Safe operating procedures for current advice.

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