The Hazards of Non-Routine Tasks

Non-routine jobs are tasks that are performed infrequently or for the first time. Since these tasks are not performed often, all of the hazards associated with the job can be easily overlooked. It is important to identify hazards associated with non-routine tasks and develop a procedure to safely carry out the job. Understanding the risks associated with any task can go a long way in preventing injuries.

This past April, a Trust Member’s employees were performing a non-routine task that resulted in one worker being seriously injured. Working from heights is not a common task for this company, but the job at hand required employees to work from the roof of their building. After accessing the roof, one worker walked across the rooftop to assess the day’s job. The worker was wearing a harness and planned to properly tie off – he had only been on the roof for a few minutes and had not yet started working. While walking across the roof, the employee unknowingly stepped onto a piece of insulation that was flush with the sheet metal roofing and fell 17 feet to the concrete floor below. The fall resulted in the worker suffering a concussion and multiple fractures.

Lessons are learned through every near miss and unfortunate workplace injury. Thinking proactively and identifying hazards before starting a task can help prevent these incidents. A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is the standard method to identify and address risks in any task. The purpose of a JHA is to create a safer work process by breaking a task down into basic steps, analyzing those steps for risks, and developing methods to eradicate those risks.

Injuries can occur when we do not take the time to think about the risks before beginning an unfamiliar task. Prior to performing non-routine work, it’s important to consider what could go wrong and the injuries that could result. Having a well thought out and documented plan to perform tasks will help keep your employees safe.

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