What is Job Task Analysis (JTA) and why does your workplace need it?

When seeking the ideal candidate, we often focus on all the elements that make the person “the right fit” for the job. In many ways, having a Job Task Analysis (JTA) provides an additional framework for thinking about whether the job is also “the right fit” for the person.

Overview of Job Task Analysis

A well-developed JTA lays out the inherent requirements of a role that may not otherwise be captured in a regular job description. It does this by evaluating the job, rather than the person potentially doing the job, to understand the larger work responsibilities and key demands associated with it. That might include the job’s physical, cognitive, psychological, behavioural and environmental components.

The different activities or elements that the task consists of are comprehensively broken down and examined in order to compile a job task analysis, which will document:

  • A detailed description of the job task
  • The steps required to complete a task
  • The physical and postural requirements
  • Psychological, cognitive, and behavioural demands of the role
  • Task frequency and duration
  • Timing details, including shift time and cycle times
  • Environmental assessments and observations
  • Equipment or PPE required to perform the duties
  • Image gallery for visual reference, including the employee performing the job task
  • An assigned physical demand rating for each job task.

The process of collecting job task analysis data utilises a range of quantitative and qualitative methods. That is why JTAs are conducted by experienced Occupational Health Consultants, with extensive knowledge of workplace environments and skills in observation of movement.

Differences between JTA and a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS)

Much like the JTA, the SWMS sets out:

  • High-risk activities which will be carried out during work
  • How the work activity will be conducted in a logical sequence
  • Hazards which arise from these activities
  • Measures that need to be in place to conduct the operation safely and control the risks.

In this way, the SWMS documents many items that a JTA does, and so there can be some interaction and cross-pollination between the two. However, there are also key differences in the purpose of both safety mechanisms.

A SWMS is intended as a construction industry-specific document and process and is required for all high-risk construction work. The main purpose of a SWMS is that each person conducting the activity or operation outlined in the document understands the accepted safety practices required to perform that job. It also helps supervisors and other employees understand the requirements associated with carrying out the specified high-risk construction work.

In practice, the SWMS becomes a reference document or “cheat sheet” for a certain type of task that is conducted at regular intervals, and it can be refined over time. Employees are required to review the SWMS prior to conducting a task and ensure that it applies to the task they are doing. A JTA differs in that it is created before a task is conducted so that the person doing the job is aware – and often has been matched to the task – as per all the risks and inherent demands. A different job on a different day may require a specific JTA.

The ultimate purpose of both a JTA and SWMS is to make the workplace safer, especially in industries and companies that must be proactive about safety. Bodycare is also here to help with that.

Importance in the workplace

The clarity that a JTA provides around the inherent requirements of a role cannot be understated. This clear understanding of what a job will demand of the person undertaking it allows the employer to provide a potential employee with an accurate picture of the role before employment. It also empowers the employer through informing their decisions around the necessary capabilities being sought in a candidate.

The information contained in a JTA is also especially important to other workplace stakeholders, such as doctors, physiotherapists, and other treating health professions, who can take it into consideration when allocating suitable or restricted duties. This may be a required course of action if an employee has sustained a limiting or lost-time injury, which calls for a staged approach to ease them back into a particular job task. In the case of employees who have taken time off work because of these injuries, the JTA can guide the health management team in calculating recovery times as well as streamlining rehabilitation and Return to Work (RTW) processes. It does this by highlighting information around job responsibilities that would not otherwise be known to them.

In conjunction with advice from the relevant health practitioners, the JTA is a tool for both employer and employees to better understand what can be done to avoid injury relapses or worsening any pre-existing conditions (which would ultimately result in more lost time). The JTA can additionally be applied by the employer in pre-employment screening and used as an objective baseline for performance evaluations, providing full transparency to the employee.

This all translates to invaluable support for an employer in hiring staff and identifying training needs, as well as for an employee in fulfilling their duties safely and effectively.

What is a Job Dictionary?

An organisation’s individual JTAs can all be combined to form one comprehensive Job Dictionary. Having this compilation can ensure that internal and external stakeholders are fully informed of the specific job tasks and inherent requirements of each role undertaken within the organisation.

A Job Dictionary serves as a vital resource by:

  • Outlining the inherent requirements of different job roles and giving visibility to the variation between their demands within an organisation
  • Being used as a tool to identify suitable duties for injured employees
  • Assisting with the creation of tailored injury prevention programs
  • Assisting in fast-tracking the return-to-work process when it is provided to external health professionals for reference.

Talk to Bodycare today about how to review job tasks in your organisation to enhance your workplace safety program.