Ontology-based representation and reasoning framework for supporting job hazard analysis

Han Hsiang Wang, Frank Boukamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Job hazard analysis (JHA) is a process of identifying potential hazards for each step of an activity and proposing safety rules to prevent potential incidents related to these hazards. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends performing JHA for construction activities to highlight and react to potential hazards. JHA commonly requires brainstorming sessions to identify steps and associated hazards within construction activities. A company's personnel involved in JHAs rely on their experience-and often also on the company's internal knowledge represented in the form of safety rules. However, the complexity and time-consuming nature of JHA prevent safety personnel from adjusting JHAs quickly when changes in the construction methods and the schedule are made. This paper presents a framework aiming to improve access to a company's JHA knowledge. The framework uses ontologies for structuring knowledge about activities, job steps, and hazards. It also includes an ontological reasoning mechanism for identifying safety rules applicable to given activities. The framework has been validated through several test cases using real JHA documents. The results of the validations are discussed, and conclusions for future research are drawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-456
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Computing in Civil Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Construction management
  • Job hazard analysis
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Ontology
  • Safety


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