EM385 Training Vs OSHA 30 Hour – Differences Explained

EM385 Vs OSHA 30 Hour Training

A lot of people get confused on the differences between EM385 1-1 training and OSHA 30 Hour training. This is understandable as there is significant overlap in the curriculum of these training programs.

Not only that, there are also certain roles that require both EM385 training and OSHA 30 hour certification in order to be compliant when bidding for, or working on US government DoD military construction projects.

In this short article we will cover the key differences between these two safety and health learning programs.

What is EM385 training?

‘EM385 training’ is, in fact, several different length courses that cover subsets of the EM385 engineers manual.

The trainings cover the safety and health requirements for contractors working on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects. 

The courses are based on the EM 385-1-1 manual, which is a comprehensive document that outlines the standards and practices for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment1. EM385 training is mandated for Site Safety and Health Officers (SSHOs) and other key contract personnel who are responsible for implementing and monitoring the site-specific safety plan.

What is OSHA 30-hour training?

OSHA 30-hour training is a course that provides workers with some safety supervision responsibility with basic and more advanced training on common safety and health hazards in their industry. 

The courses are part of the OSHA Outreach Training Program, which aims to promote workplace safety and health awareness and compliance. 

OSHA 30-hour training is intended for those with supervisory duties, like safety directors, forepersons, and field supervisors. 

There are two flavors of the OSHA 30 hour training: 


The Construction course covers the OSHA regulations for construction work (29 CFR 1926) and includes construction industry specific content such as the OSHA ‘Focus Four’ hazards, heat and cold stress safety, stairway and ladder safety, confined space safety and scaffold safety.

Most of these topics are also covered in the EM385 training and the standards are largely similar, but EM385 does place different emphasis on certain aspects of the training.

General Industry 

The General Industry course covers the OSHA regulations for general industry work (29 CFR 1910) covers some of the same content, but then focuses on general industry related topics including bloodborne pathogens, materials handling safety, and machine safeguarding.

There is less overlap between the OSHA 30 general course and EM385 training.

Do I need EM385 Training?

This answer depends on the type and scope of a project, as well as the requirements of the contract and the specific client.

In general terms, if the project involves USACE or other federal agencies, EM385 training is mandatory for SSHOs and other key personnel. 

If the project does not involve USACE or other federal agencies, OSHA 30 training could be sufficient for safety supervisors and managers. 

However, some government clients may still require EM385 1-1 training or other specific certifications for their contractors – it is really up to them to specify what they require.

This being the case, it is important to check the clauses of the individual contract and the expectations of the client before bidding on any project.

If you are interested in taking reliable and standards compliant EM385 training online you can get started today on this site.

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