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How Your Construction Project Can Benefit from a Site Safety and Health Officer 

site safety and health officer

Site safety and health officers (SSHO) are required for many federal construction projects. But while they may not be needed for your specific project, having an SSHO can keep your workers safe, your project on track and help you stick to your project budget. 

Learn more about what an SSHO is, what they do and how having one can benefit your construction project. 

What Is a Site Safety and Health Officer? 

SSHOs are key safety professionals on construction projects. They provide onsite safety and occupational management services, including surveillance, inspections, training and safety enforcement. SSHOs help ensure that projects comply with all local, state and federal health and safety guidelines and procedures. 

When an SSHO is on the jobsite, they are responsible for promoting the safety of everyone involved and ensuring that the project stays up to code. 

What Does a Site Safety and Health Officer Do? 

Your project’s SSHO is onsite during all working hours and has a variety of responsibilities, including: 

  • Maintaining Safety Data Sheets (SDS) 
  • Conducting project-specific safety training, including new employee orientation, refresher training, toolbox talks and on-the-spot training 
  • Performing daily safety inspections of your jobsite and equipment 
  • Responding to any safety concerns 
  • Carrying out site inspections to identify hazards 
  • Training employees for emergency situations and evacuations 
  • Developing and maintaining site-specific emergency response plans 
  • Implementing an accident prevention plan for handling hazardous substances 
  • Investigating incidents involving personal injury, property damage, safety violations or unsafe working conditions 

An SSHO is a valuable resource for you and your workers, as they have the knowledge and experience necessary to promote the health and safety of everyone on your jobsite. They must be available at all times to answer questions or respond to safety concerns. 

What Training Do SSHOs Need? 

Becoming an SSHO takes a fair amount of time and effort, and there are strict requirements for SSHOs who work on federal or military construction projects. 

The regulations that control SSHOs (and alternate SSHOs) are found in EM 385-1-1, the Safety and Health Requirements Manual developed by the Army Corps of Engineers. These regulations require that anyone service an SSHO role must provide proof of either: 

  • Five years of employment in the construction industry, such as supervising or managing general construction by managing safety programs or processes, conducting hazard analyses and developing controls; or 
  • Five continuous years of employment in general industry; or 
  • Four years of experience in either of the above, plus a third-party safety and occupational health-related certification that’s nationally accredited 

Some employers also require a certain number of years of experience working on Department of Defense or other federal construction projects. Candidates who have received a safety-related degree may also have an easier time qualifying for SSHO roles. 

In addition to all the above, a federally contracted SSHO needs to provide proof of completion of one of the following training courses: 

  • OSHA 30-hour Construction course 
  • OSHA 30-hour General Industry course 
  • An equivalent formal construction or industry safety and health course that covers the subjects found in the OSHA 30-hour courses 
  • A 40-hour EM 385-1-1 certification
  • Eight hours of training each year for the past five years

An SSHO that meets these qualifications should be well prepared to support the health and safety at your worksite and respond to any incidents that may arise. 

Does Your Project Need an SSHO? 

While having a full-time SSHO is only required for certain government and military projects, employing this professional can provide a wealth of benefits to your construction project.  

Maintaining the health and safety of your project — as well as making sure accidents don’t derail your project timeline and budget — is essential to your project’s success. If your workers experience frequent accidents and injuries because of lax safety procedures, your costs related to injury care will skyrocket.  

Additionally, if your workers don’t feel they’re being protected from potential injuries, they’re less likely to remain employed with you and your turnover rates will climb. Having to frequently replace workers is expensive and frustrating and can put your project well behind schedule. 

By having someone on your project staff who is wholly dedicated to supporting the health and safety of your workers, you’re less likely to experience high costs and work slowdowns that result from inconsistent safety procedures. And, if something does happen — such as a hazardous materials spill or a natural disaster that requires evacuation — you’ll have the processes in place to capably and confidently respond.  

Your Resource for SSHO Staffing 

Finding the right SSHO for your project can be a challenge, but Medcor can help. Our experienced safety staffing professionals can help you find a skilled, qualified SSHO — and a variety of other construction site safety professionals — to keep your project safe, on schedule and on budget. Speak with an advocate today.