Posted On: February 20, 2017

How to Become an SSHO in 2021

Do you have years of occupational safety experience under your belt? Is it about time for bigger and more exciting projects? If you’re ready to take your workplace compliance expertise to another level, then consider becoming a Site Safety and Health Officer (SSHO) in 2021!

What is an SSHO?

According to the Safety and Health Requirements Manual (EM 385-1-1) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an SSHO is the “superintendent or other qualified/competent person who is responsible for on-site safety and health.” As far as hazardous, toxic, and radioactive waste operations are concerned, the on-site SSHO is responsible for implementing the accident prevention plan and the site safety and health plan.

Individual Course

40-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

Learn how to comply with the EM 385 manual and safely work on construction sites.

Individual Course

16-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

Understanding the EM 385 manual for employees and contractors on military projects.

Individual Course

24-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

EM 385 manual training for contractors, managers, or supervisors on military projects

Individual Course

8-Hour EM 385-1-1 Refresher Training

Annual training for SSHOs or anyone who needs a refresher on the EM 385 manual.


What does an SSHO do?

In line with EM 385-1-1 regulations, contractors of federally funded projects are required to employ at least one SSHO on site. The primary SSHO is responsible for the overall management, implementation, and enforcement of the contractor’s corresponding safety and health program. Common job responsibilities include:

  • Conducting safety meetings and project-specific training
  • Inspecting site activities to identify and address safety or occupational health issues
  • Coordinating modifications to the site safety and health plan

How to become an SSHO?

To be eligible for contract work, the SSHO must meet the administrative, experience, and training requirements specified in Section 1.A.17 of the EM 385-1-1 manual. Highlights include:

Administration and reporting

  1. Being an SSHO is a full-time responsibility. During the shift, the SSHO must be present on site to have complete mobility and sufficient access to every major work operation.
  1. Unless specified otherwise in the contract and coordinated with the local safety and occupational health office, the SSHO must “be an employee other than the supervisor.”
  1. The SSHO must report to a senior project or corporate official.
  1. An alternate SSHO is allowed for projects with multiple shifts and must be provided if the primary SSHO is off-site for more than 24 hours. A designated representative may be used if the SSHO is temporarily off-site for less than 24 hours.


  1. The SSHO must have an instructor-signed copy of his or her OSHA 30-hour training card. The SSHO must have completed any of the following:
  • 30-hour OSHA general industry safety class or web-based training (provided that the student can ask direct questions to the instructor via chat or phone)
  • 30-hour OSHA construction industry safety class or web-based training (provided that the student can ask direct questions to the instructor via chat or phone)
  • An equivalent, formal construction or industry health and safety training that covers the topics of the OSHA 30-hour course and applicable EM 385-1-1 training. The equivalent training may be class-based or web-based (provided that the student can ask direct questions to the qualified instructor via chat or phone).
  1. To maintain competency, the SSHO must complete 8 hours of documented training each year—including formal, online, self-study, or related health and safety training. Accepted continuing education activities include, but are not limited to, writing professional articles, teaching a class, and participating in professional meetings.


The SSHO is also required to have any of the following proof of employment or experience:

  1. 5 years of continuous construction or industrial experience related to the supervision or management of safety programs, implementation of hazard analyses or development of safety controls.


  1. 4 years’ experience if the SSHO has a third-party, national accreditation related to safety and occupational health. *

Going through over 900 pages of the safety and health requirements can be overwhelming. But don’t worry! offers a 40-Hour EM 385-1-1 USACE Safety & Health course that satisfies the initial training requirements for aspiring SSHOs. Contact us to find out how you can learn the essentials of EM 385 in an easy, interactive online course. * Refer to the manual for a complete list of certifications.  

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