Frequently Asked Questions
For businesses already in OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program: Everyone currently in the program.
For new businesses who want to join: The size requirements for employer participation in SHARP are 250 or fewer onsite employees and fewer than 500 corporate-wide employees. This upper corporate size limit does not apply to individual franchisees.
OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program is the agency's primary program for providing small business owners no-cost consultation services to address hazards and improve workplace safety and health without fear of citations or monetary penalties. These programs are funded by OSHA and run by state grantees that are knowledgeable about the needs of the small businesses they serve.
By achieving SHARP status, you have placed yourself in an elite group of small businesses that maintain exemplary safety and health programs. In addition to being granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to 2 years, and subsequent renewal for up to 3 years¤, you:
- Protect workers from all safety and health hazards that may exist at your workplace;
- Work with OSHA to identify and implement best practices to protect your workers;
- Develop an innovative safety and health programs for your business that will protect your workers.
Create a Culture
- Create a better working environment free of safety and health hazards;
- Boost worker morale by involving workers in creating a culture that emphasizes a safe and healthful workplace;
- Improve communication among workers and management;
- Encourage safety in the community as workers may transfer safe and healthy work practices outside of the workplace.
Build a Reputation
- Receive official recognition from OSHA for your achievement of SHARP status and for maintaining an exemplary safety and health programs;
- Become a leader in your industry by providing a safe and healthy workplace for workers;
- Attract skillful workers looking to join a business that is at the forefront of its industry in providing a safe and healthy workplace for its workers;
- Lower worker compensation insurance premiums;
- Improve your worker retention and reduce costly turnover;
- Reduce worker days away from work to keep operations and production running smoothly;
See how many worksites have become Small Business Success Stories through SHARP!
¤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.
To participate in SHARP, you must:
- Request a comprehensive consultation visit from your On-Site Consultation office that involves 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 Recordable Case (TRC) rate below the national average for your industry; 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.
To schedule an On-Site Consultation visit and determine your eligibility for SHARP, contact your state's On-Site Consultation office.
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 elements 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!
†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.
††Please note that OSHA recently published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to the regulations covering the On-site Consultation Program and SHARP exemptions. The proposed changes can be found at 75 FR 54064.
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.
¤¤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.
OSHA is always looking for ways to ensure that compliance assistance resources are used effectively as possible to help small businesses. When it came to OSHA's attention that subsidiaries of large, multi-national corporations, some with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees, were participating in SHARP, OSHA concluded that additional requirements were needed to ensure that SHARP resources would be more effectively targeted to the small employers that really needed them. The subsidiaries of larger employers likely had the economic means to provide safety and health assistance for their subsidiaries without Federal Assistance and therefore would be better served by participating in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which is designed to recognize larger companies.
OSHA's November 24, 2014 memorandum sought to refocus On-Site Consultation resources on the needs of the five million small employers in the nation by requiring companies that exceed the size limit to transition from SHARP to the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). These companies were allowed to remain in SHARP until their VPP evaluation was completed.
On March 20, 2015, OSHA rescinded the November 2014 policy memorandum and issued a revised memorandum that:
- Allows all worksites of any size that are currently participants in SHARP to remain in SHARP and continue to reapply for SHARP.
- Allows worksites that chose to leave SHARP because of the 2014 memorandum to automatically rejoin SHARP.
- Reminds states that if they want to allow new subsidiaries of large firms to become participants in SHARP, they can use 100% of state funds instead of OSHA grant funds.
- Permits current SHARP sites that grow in size beyond the size limits identified in the policy to remain in the program.