Non-routine work tasks are tasks that employees do not regularly perform or are performing for the first time. Since the tasks are not performed on a routine basis, the likelihood of injuries and/or illnesses to employees performing these tasks increases significantly. To better protect employees performing non-routine tasks, we must implement proper measures to ensure they know how to perform these tasks safely. Here are a few examples of non-routine work tasks, reasons why non-routine tasks can be hazardous, and safety measures to take to protect employees performing these tasks.
NON-ROUTINE WORK TASKS MAY INCLUDE:
- Tasks performed for the first time
- Tasks performed infrequently
- Tasks that have never been performed before
- Tasks assigned that are outside an employee’s regular duties
- Tasks performed differently than the documented procedure
REASONS WHY NON-ROUTINE TASKS MAY INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF AN INJURY AND/OR ILLNESS:
- Employees may not be properly trained to perform the tasks or use tools/equipment required to complete the tasks
- If employees have performed the tasks in the past but not recently, they may not remember the proper procedures for performing the tasks safely
- Non-routine tasks may require special PPE that the employee no longer has (or is not fitted correctly for),and/or the PPE may be outdated.
- Employees may be exposed to potentially hazardous situations that they don’t encounter while performing their routine tasks (i.e., working at heights, confined spaces, engulfment, the release of hazardous energy, hot work, etc.)
STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE EMPLOYEES PERFORM NON-ROUTINE TASKS:
- Conduct a risk/hazard assessment
- Completing Job Safety Analyses (JSAs), Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs), Activity Hazard Analyses (AHAs),etc., before starting non-routine tasks offers a great way of identifying the existence of potential hazards
- Develop/Update a written procedure for performing the task, including hazard control measures to be taken
- Properly train employees on safely performing the task before assigning them to a task
- Review Safety Data Sheets to identify potential hazards associated with chemical/material use
- Conduct a pre-job meeting to discuss the tasks, procedures, and safety measures to be taken
Injuries can occur if we don’t take the time to identify the risks before performing non-routine tasks. Having a well-thought-out plan before performing non-routine tasks will help ensure the safety of employees performing them.