Posted On: March 4, 2022

OSHA Military Construction Program: What is MilCon?

The Department of Defense (DOD) authorizes specific military construction (MILCON) projects offered through the National Defense Authorization Act. These projects are enabled by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy. Their purpose is planning, programming, designing, and building the runways, barracks, piers, warehouses, schools, hospitals, child development centers, and other facilities necessary to support the U.S. military forces at home and abroad.

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40-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

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

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16-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

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

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24-Hour EM 385-1-1 Training

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

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8-Hour EM 385-1-1 Refresher Training

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


What is The MilCon process?

The DOD and Congress work together to build essential military facilities. The process begins with the requirement for a facility and ends with a completed structure. The process is extensive and complex.

In summary, MilCon process encompasses these steps:

  1. Determining Determine if a facility is needed by a local installation commander and the public works organization
  2. Vet and prioritize construction projects within the military command chain, the associated Military Department (MILDEP), and possibly other DOD components
  3. Consolidate and budget within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, create the infrastructure construction segment of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP)
  4. Insertion within the final budget year's list of projects in the yearly President's Budget Request to Congress
  5. Review and adjust the budget list by the congressional defense committees
  6. Consider and pass the necessary authorization and requisition acts and their legislation by the President of the United States
  7. Design and execute of the approved construction plans by the MILDEP's chosen Construction Agent or Design Manager/Construction Manager–Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) for the Navy and Marine Corps, Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the Army, and either NAVFAC, USACE, or for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) for the Air Force–and their supporting contractors.

Sustaining A Facility

DOD facilities require frequently scheduled maintenance to ensure they remain in working order throughout their service lives. This maintenance includes:

  • Emergency and routine fixes
  • Regularly planned inspections and precautionary maintenance tasks
  • Scheduled restoration or replacement of major facility elements as needed to upkeep the facility

Facility maintenance efforts do not consist of:

  • Actions related to Restoration or Modernization
  • Repair or replacement of non-attached gear or equipment or building components that generally last more than 50 years
  • Tasks linked with facilities operations
  • Environmental compliance attempts, historical preservation, or costs associated to 'acts of God,' all of which are financed elsewhere

Demolition and Disposal of Excess Facilities
DOD has made significant improvements to reduce excess facilities from its property inventory strategically. It is DOD policy that any property with no probable military use or any property that is not economically viable to repair must undergo disposal. This disposal is in accordance with applicable law, policies, procedure, and guidance.

Demolition and disposal of excess or antiquated facilities serve to:

  • Reduce operation and maintenance expenses
  • Eliminate possible fire and safety hazards
  • Remove the possibility for the unauthorized use of surplus facilities
  • Eliminate damaged facilities that detract from the overall reliability of installations

In accordance with legal requirements, the DOD uses situation-appropriate methods to eliminate obsolete, underutilized, and inefficient support infrastructure.

Contractor Safety And Training

Most government MilCon contracts incorporate several federal acquisition regulation (FAR) clauses that define various routine conditions. The most significant clause concerning construction safety is FAR clause 52.236-13(c), which states "if this contract is for construction or dismantling, demolition or removal of improvements with any Department of Defense agency or component, the contractor shall comply with all pertinent provisions of the latest version U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Safety and Health Requirements Manual EM 385-1-1 in effect on the date of the solicitation."

Some DOD agencies may reject a bid as being invalid if, upon request, you do not include a written site-specific accident prevention plan that aligns with the requirements specified by EM 385.

In requiring contractors to abide by EM 385, the DOD is not assuming responsibility for guaranteeing the protection of workers. That responsibility of safety rests clearly on the employer of the workers, as evidenced by section 5(a)(1).

EM 385 vs. OSHA Requirements

Most of the technical Military construction requirements in EM 385 mirror those in 29 CFR 1926. However, EM 385 includes stricter technical requirements than CFR 1926. Specifically, EM 385 places a higher emphasis on employee training and worksite inspections.

EM 385 views employee training and worksite inspections as critical for preventing accidents. The emphasis on this training is crucial for teaching employees about the potential hazards and informing them on necessary precautions. Not all safety hazards are apparent, and this training presents many potential dangers that are commonly overlooked.

One of the most noticeable differences is the requirement in EM 385 in the manual for a written Accident Prevention Plan (APP). As the name suggests, APP is a written plan that details how to prevent accidents on specific construction projects. Also different from OSHA is the requirement to identify company officials responsible for safety with the APP. If anything does happen, the DOD Personnel know who to contact.

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