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Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

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

The Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)


The Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary safety and health programs. Acceptance of your worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles your company out among your business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites.

On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

How You Can Participate In SHARP

To participate in SHARP, employers must:

  • Request an on-site comprehensive confidential consultation visit from an On-Site Consultation office. The consultation will include a complete hazard identification survey;
  • Involve employees in the consultation process;
  • Correct all hazards identified by the consultant;
  • Implement and maintain an safety and health programs that, at a minimum, addresses OSHA's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines; Issuance of Voluntary Guidelines;
  • Maintain your company's Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate and Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) below the national average for your industry. See OSHAcademy Course 708, Module 7, for more information on calculating the DART Rate and TCIR; and
  • Agree to notify your state's On-site Consultation office prior to making any changes in the working conditions or introducing new hazards into the workplace.

1. To participate in OSHA's SHARP, you must Maintain your company's Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rate and Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) rate _____.

a. at or below the national all-industry average
b. below the national average for your industry
c. below the all-industry small employer average
d. at or below the initial qualifying rate

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SHARP Certification and Inspection Exemption

After you satisfy all SHARP requirements, the Consultation Project Manager in your state may recommend your worksite for SHARP approval. The state and OSHA will formally recognize your worksite with a SHARP Certificate. Many states coordinate with your worksites to hold ceremonies and further recognize your achievements.

When you are initially certified as a SHARP site, you will be granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for 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 programs has been effectively maintained or improved;
  • Continue to meet all SHARP eligibility criteria and program requirements; and
  • Agree, if requesting a 2 or 3 year renewal, to conduct and submit an Interim Year SHARP Site Self-Evaluation to your state On-site Consultation Program Manager that is based on the attributes of the Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines; Issuance of Voluntary Guidelines and includes your worksite's injury and illness logs that are required by OSHA to be maintained.

See how many worksites have become Small Business Success Stories through SHARP!

2. After initial SHARP certification, your company will be granted an exemption from programmed inspections for _____.

a. 1 year
b. up to 2 years
c. up to 3 years
d. 2 years

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Not Quite Ready for SHARP?

If you meet most but not all of the SHARP eligibility criteria and are committed to working toward SHARP approval, you may be recommended by your state On-site Consultation Project Manager for Pre-SHARP status. Upon achieving Pre-SHARP status, you are granted a deferral from OSHA programmed inspections.

To achieve Pre-SHARP status:

  • You have had a full service, comprehensive consultation visit at your worksite;
  • You have corrected all hazards identified by the consultant(s);
  • You have informed your workers of hazard correction(s);
  • You are in the process of implementing an effective safety and health programs; and
  • You can meet all SHARP requirements during the Pre-SHARP deferral period, not to exceed a total of 18 months.

To determine your eligibility for Pre-SHARP, please schedule an On-site Consultation visit by contacting the On-site Consultation office in your state.

Note: Participation in SHARP does not eliminate the responsibilities of owners or rights of workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Under OSHA, the following types of incidents can trigger an OSHA enforcement inspection at SHARP sites: formal complaints, fatality, imminent danger situations and any other significant events as directed by the Assistant Secretary of OSHA.

3. To achieve Pre-SHARP status, the employer must be able to meet all SHARP requirements during the Pre-SHARP deferral period, not to exceed a total of _____.

a. 1 year
b. 18 months
c. 30 months
d. 3 years

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The SHPA 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 58 attributes and cues within 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.

We will take a closer look at attributes and cues in the next section.

4. In the SHPA Worksheet, which of the seven categories examines the organization's SMS structure?

a. Hazard Prevention and Control
b. Management Leadership
c. Planning and Evaluation
d. Administration and Supervision

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Evaluating Attributes

Attributes. Each attribute is considered critical to the effectiveness of one or more programs in the SMS. Each attribute is worded as a positive statement and is rated as "in place" if true and "not in place" if the statement cannot be justified as being true. To arrive at a conclusion about the quality of each attribute, the evaluator analyzes a number of metrics or "cues."

Cues. Cues are specific facts or perceptions that help justify the rating given to an attribute. All cues listed below the attribute either support/confirm (+) or oppose/negate (-) the attribute statement. Each cue gives added weight to the rating for the attribute. On the worksheet, the evaluator checkmarks the plus (+) column if the cue is present or minus (-) if it is not. Cues are uncovered through observations, inspections, measurement, interviews, and document review.

The table below displays the format used in OSHAcademy's Ultimate SHARP Audit. Attribute #1 is followed by a sample of its related cues.

1. A comprehensive, baseline hazard survey has been conducted within the past five (5) years.
CUES Yes (+) No (-)
a. Surveys address hazards in a timely and effective manner.
b. The survey results in an updated hazard list or survey report (action plan).
c. The survey was completed by a certified specialist.

As you'll see in the next section, this attribute would receive a rating of "2" because there are few negating cues and multiple confirming cues.

5. Which of the following terms describes a specific fact or perception used by the evaluator to rate an attribute on the SHPA Worksheet?

a. Property
b. Cue
c. Impact
d. Aspect

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The 58-attribute Worksheet (Continued)

Rating the attributes - Analyzing the Cues

OSHA consultants assess each of the cues to establish a rating for the associated attribute. If a large number of confirming cues that support the attribute are present, the evaluator may objectively determine that the attribute statement is true or "in place."

The table below shows the rating scale, a definition, and the criteria for the rating the attribute. Here's how it works.

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

To rate the attribute, the evaluator enters one of the ratings next to the attribute's statement.

0 No discernible or meaningful indication that the item is even partially in place. No confirming (+) cues. Eliminated by a single confirming (+) cue.
1 Some portion or aspect is present, although major improvement is needed. Requires a few negating (-) cue and one or more confirming (+) cues.
2 The attribute is largely in place, with only minor improvement needed. Requires multiple confirming (+) cues and a few negating (-) cues.
3 The attribute is completely in place. No negating (-) cues. Eliminated by a single negating (-) cue.
NE Not Evaluated: Recognizes that comprehensive evaluations can be incremental. Optional: Not used by OSHA consultants.
NA Not Applicable: Must have justification in the comments box why the item is not applicable. Optional: Not used by OSHA consultants.

6. In the SHPA Worksheet, which of the four ratings would indicate the absence of negating cues?

a. 0
b. 1
c. 2
d. 3

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The 58-Attribute 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 attributes.
  • 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 more information on the SHARP process see OSHA's SHARP Manual.

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

7. Why should we encourage small incremental improvements to the safety management system?

a. To save money on resources
b. To better manage the "unexpected"
c. We can make the report shorter
d. Actually, we should encourage big changes

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