How to Complete an Activity Hazard Analysis

Activity Hazard Analysis EM 385-1-1 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) requires contractors of federal projects to complete a documented process of risk management prior to any hazardous work operation. In compliance with the Safety and Health Requirements Manual (EM 385-1-1), contractors must carry out an Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA) to identify, assess, prioritize, and address specific risks. Do you know how to complete an AHA? Read our latest blog to find out!

What is an Activity Hazard Analysis?

The USACE uses an activity hazard analysis to document, analyze, and manage the inherent risks of a particular work activity:
  • Before performing any defined feature of work, the contractor must outline the job steps, associated hazards, control measures, risk assessment, related equipment, training requirements, and competent personnel in a written document.
  • Communication and involvement with workers, site safety and health officers (SSHO), subcontractors, and even suppliers are crucial in developing an effective AHA.
  • The activity hazard analysis must be reviewed and updated to reflect and address any changes in existing work procedures, operations, and even competent personnel.
Similar risk mitigation tools like the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) or Job Safety Analysis (JSA) may also be used as an equivalent documentation—as long as the available data also meets all the necessary activity hazard analysis requirements. EM 385 Training Online

How does an AHA help?

An AHA helps contractors, workers, and SSHOs to identify hazards before related accidents and injuries may occur. The findings of the AHA can also be used as a guide to:
  • Minimize accidents and injuries
  • Establish proper work procedures
  • Implement preventive measures
  • Determine safety training opportunities
  • Increase worker productivity
  • Reduce workers’ compensation costs

What are the steps to conduct an activity hazard analysis?

  1. Define work features and prioritize hazardous activities.
An AHA can be conducted on various phases of work or procedures. Involve employees to have a better grasp of the existing work processes and hazards. Once you have reviewed accident records and trends, prioritize the following:
  • Activities with high injury or illness rates
  • Activities that may potentially cause severe accidents or injuries
  • Activities that are new to the process or have undergone modifications
  • Complex activities that need written instructions
  1. Outline the sequence or steps needed to perform the activity.
Once you have identified the activity, list the necessary steps to accomplish the task. Observe and get feedback from employees who have previously performed the activity. Record the steps in sequential order. Photographs and visual records may also be used as a reference.
  1. Determine the potential hazards for each step or work phase.
Identify the inherent risks and anticipated hazards of every step or work sequence. Potential risks include:
  • Struck-by and caught-in-between hazards
  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards
  • Electrical, health, and fire hazards
  • Hazardous material or chemical hazards
  1. Identify safety and precautionary measures to control or prevent the potential hazard.
Determine how to modify the working conditions/procedures in order to eliminate or reduce the related risks to an acceptable level:
  • Can the steps or procedures be changed to minimize such hazards?
  • Is it feasible to reduce the frequency of that hazardous activity?
  • What kind of personal protective equipment can be used?
  • What can the employees do to reduce associated hazards?
Recommended control measures must be site-specific. Avoid generic statements and attach supplementary safety plans if necessary.
  1. Acknowledge the risks and assign a Risk Assessment Code (RAC).
Review every hazard and assess the risk in terms of:
  • Probability – frequent, likely, occasional, seldom or unlikely
  • Severity – catastrophic, critical, marginal or negligible
Use the RAC matrix on EM 385-1-1 to assess the hazards and determine the overall risk assessment code.
  1. List additional details for hazard analysis.
Contractors are required to include the following information on the activity hazard analysis form:
  • Equipment to be used
  • Names of competent or qualified personnel
  • Training requirements
  • Inspection requirements
Click here for samples of AHA forms. To find out more about USACE’s health and safety requirements for federally funded contracts, check out’s 8-Hour EM 385 or 40-hour EM 385 course! Sources:  

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