Skip Navigation

Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Introduction to the SHARP Audit



The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement of status that will single you out among your business peers as a model for worksite safety and health. Upon receiving SHARP recognition, your worksite will be exempt from programmed inspections during the period that your SHARP certification is valid.

You're in luck! There quiz review questions in this module and you won't find any question on the final exam either. You can review the information in this module if interested, or if you're ready, click on the red button above to take the final exam exam!

How You Can Participate In SHARP

To participate in SHARP, you must:

  • Request a consultation visit that involves a complete hazard identification survey;
  • Involve employees in the consultation process;
  • Correct all hazards identified by the consultant;
  • Implement and maintain a safety and health management system that, at a minimum, addresses OSHA's 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines;
  • Lower your company's Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate and Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate below the national average; and
  • Agree to notify your state Consultation Project Office prior to making any changes in the working conditions or introducing new hazards into the workplace.

Next Section

SHARP Certification and Inspection Exemption

After you satisfy all SHARP requirements, the Consultation Project Manager in your state may recommend your worksite for final SHARP approval and certification. The state and OSHA will formally recognize your worksite at a SHARP awards ceremony.

When you are initially certified as a SHARP site, you will be granted an exemption up to 2 years. After your initial certification, you may request SHARP renewal for up to 3 years, provided that you:

  • Apply for renewal during the last quarter of the exemption period;
  • Allow a full service comprehensive visit to ensure that your exemplary safety and health management system has been effectively maintained or improved;
  • Continue to meet all eligibility criteria and program requirements; and
  • Agree, if requesting a multiple year renewal for 2 or 3 years, to conduct annual self-evaluations and to submit a written report to your state Consultation Program Manager that is based on the elements of the 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines and includes OSHA's required injury and illness logs.

Next Section

Not Quite Ready for SHARP?

If you meet most but not all of the SHARP eligibility criteria and are committed to working toward full SHARP approval, you may be recommended by your state Consultation Project Manager for an inspection deferral of up to 18 months if:

  • You have had a complete hazard identification consultation visit at your worksite and you have corrected all hazards;
  • You are in the process of implementing an effective safety and health management system; and
  • You can meet all SHARP requirements during the deferral period.

It's time to get familiar with the various program elements of the SMS that are evaluated as part of the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). Believe me, if you complete and "pass" this evaluation, your SMS is probably designed and performing more effectively than most. The rest of this course will introduce you to 58 elements that are commonly evaluated in a SHARP Audit and offer important suggestions for each element. Relax. You are not actually going to have to conduct an audit as part of this course.

Next Section

The 58-Element Worksheet

As part of the SHARP audit, OSHA consultants use the Safety and Health Program Assessment (SHPA) Worksheet to assess the quality of an SMS. (From here on, we'll refer to it as the "Worksheet.") It is a tool that helps the evaluator objectively review and evaluate the 58 SHARP elements. Each element is considered critical to the effectiveness of one or more programs in the SMS. To arrive at a conclusion about the quality of each element, the evaluator analyzes a number of characteristics or "attributes."

The worksheet included in this course divides the elements into the following seven categories:

  1. Hazard Anticipation and Detection: This first category asks what proactive strategies the employer is using to anticipate and identify hazards in the workplace.
  2. Hazard Prevention and Control: This category evaluates the organization's ability to use engineering and management strategies to control hazards and exposure.
  3. Planning and Evaluation: This category examines the organization's SMS structure and its ability to evaluate that structure.
  4. Administration and Supervision: This category evaluates SMS performance in administering safety and health programs and supervising employees.
  5. Safety and Health Training: This category examines the SMS training program and the effectiveness of training.
  6. Management Leadership: This category uncovers how well management is demonstrating leadership through word and deed.
  7. Employee Participation: This final category evaluates the level of employee involvement in the SMS.

Next Section

The 58-Element Worksheet (Continued)

Elements and Attributes

Elements - Each of the 58 elements throughout the seven categories is presented as a positive statement about the quality of a specific program. Each statement is a "benchmark" typical of highly effective safety management systems.

Attributes - An attribute is a specific fact or perception used by the evaluator to rate an element. Each attribute describes an effect: an observable/measurable condition or behavior which either confirms (supports) or negates (fails to support) the element's statement.

Here are a couple of sample attributes associated with Element 1:

a. The surveys are conducted frequently enough to timely and effectively address hazards. (describes an observed activity)

b. The survey results in effective controls for hazards found. (describes an observed condition)

To get a list of the attributes within each of the 58 elements, download the Adobe Acrobat file, or open this web page.

Next Section

The 58-Element Worksheet (Continued)

Rating the Elements - Analyzing the Attributes

element worksheet
Click to Enlarge

OSHA consultants use these attributes as part of their SHARP Audit. If a large number of confirming attributes are present, the cause is assumed to be the condition or activity described in the associated element. You may want to include other attributes as well those presented in this course. Use these attributes in addition to the "tips" listed under each element within the course.

Take a look at the table below. It shows the rating scale, a definition, and the criteria for the rating. Here's how it works.

The evaluator's conclusion is entered as one four numeric ratings (0, 1, 2, or 3). Some evaluators may also use the "NE" or "NA" ratings. However, OSHA evaluator's use only the numeric ratings.

To rate an element, the evaluator enters one of the ratings listed to the right next to the element's statement.

Next Section

The 58-Element Worksheet (Continued)


  • In reality, there is a very small gap between the 0 (zero) rating and the 1 (one) rating and between the 2 (two) rating and the 3 (three) rating.
  • There is a large gap between the 1 (one) rating and the 2 (two) rating. That gap is the difference between mostly no and mostly yes.
  • Look for things that are done well and reinforce these things with personnel for their good efforts.
  • Encourage small incremental improvements to better manage the "unexpected."
  • In the SHARP certification process employers must participate in a complete audit. For a company to qualify for SHARP, it must achieve a rating of at least 2 (the item is largely in place, with only minor improvements needed) on all 58 elements.
  • All completed audits should have some justification and/or recommendations under the comment section for questions rated as 0 and 1. All completed assessments should be included and/or referenced in the report sent to the employer.

For a detailed look at each of the 58 Elements, click on the Module 6. Module 6-12 cover each of the 58 elements in detail.

Find out who has achieved SHARP status in your state by clicking on OSHA SHARP Sites by State.

As mentioned earlier, there is no review quiz and no questions on the final exam for this module. If you're ready, just click on the red button below to take the final exam.

Final Exam