How Many Safety Pros Do You Need to Hire?

By Jill James
Last updated: January 30, 2024
Key Takeaways

There are a number of factors that go into determining how many health and safety professionals your organization needs, but following this formula will let you figure out the right number for your company.

Ever wondered how many occupational health and safety professionals your organization needs?


Well, there’s an equation for that…

Number of qualified health and safety professionals = A x B x C x D x E x F x G + H



A = Number of Employees

  • 0-25 (0.1 factor)
  • 26-50 (0.2 factor)
  • 51-100 (0.4 factor)
  • 101-200 (0.6 factor)
  • 201-300 (0.8 factor)
  • 301-600 (1.0 factor)
  • 601-1000 (1.5 factor)
  • 1001-2000 (2.0 factor)
  • 2001-4000 (3.0 factor)

B = Degree of Hazard (a measure of the average degree of risk for all employees)

  • Minimal (0.4 factor): General office duties, low-level physical work, no exposure to powered equipment beyond personal computers, and no known health hazards.
  • Low (0.8 factor): Office atmosphere with light power equipment, minor electrical, no known health hazards.
  • Medium (1.2 factor): Standard wood & metal machine shops, light warehousing and storage, non-toxic chemical labs, and possible minor health problems.
  • High (2.5 factor): Heavy construction work, use of hazardous machinery, toxic chemical labs, fire fighting, radiation, and known potential health hazards.
  • Very High (3.5 factor): Highly toxic chemicals and biological agents, dangerous machinery, high pressure gases, hazardous transportation activity.
  • Critical (4.5 factors): Any activity where one mistake or moment of inattention is likely to cause severe disability or fatality, like deep diving or bomb disposal.

C = Degree of Dispersion (number of employees located where more than one day is required for visit and return)

  • Less than 10% (1.0 factor)
  • 10 to 20% (1.2 factor)
  • 20 to 40% (1.4 factor)
  • 40 to 60% (1.6 factor)
  • 60 to 80% (1.8 factor)

D = Degree of Responsibility: Operating Level (for safety and health)

  • Total Direct (1.5 factor): Has direct contact with first line supervisors and full accountability for safety program.
  • Indirect (1.0 factor): Monitors but does not supervise safety program at operating level; one intervening staff echelon away from operating level.
  • Partial (0.6 factor): Makes contact at the operating level but only in advisory capacity; twice removed from operating level.
  • Minimal (0.1 factor): No assigned responsibility for safety and health activities at operating level.

E = Degree of Responsibility: Establishment of Health & Safety Policies and Procedures

  • Complete (1.5 factor): Fully responsible for developing and establishing safety policy and procedures.
  • Shared (1.0 factor): The office shares actively with a higher echelon office responsibility for developing policies and procedures.
  • Partial (0.5 factor): Receives guidelines and policies from above and adapts or adds detailed implementation instructions or guidance.
  • Minimal (0.1): Has no part in developing or establishing safety and health policies or procedures.

F = Degree of Assignment to the Line Organization (of responsibility for safety and health)

  • Full Assignment (0.5 factor): Managers at all levels are assigned responsibility for safety activities as inherent part of duties, and responsibility for health and safety of subordinates. Also responsible for hazard recognition and abatement, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper machine/equipment maintenance and guarding, and enforcement of safe practices.
  • Partial (1.0 factor): Shared responsibility across supervisors and safety and health staff.
  • Minimal (1.8 factor): Responsible for all safety and health activities.

G = Duplication (factors to avoid staffing that would duplicates performance of safety functions)

  • Fully and affecting all personnel (0.1 factor)
  • Fully for 50% of personnel, or only 50% of assigned functions for all personnel (0.5 factor)
  • Not at all (1.0 factor)

H = Additional Considerations: Measurements of safety over-staffing (additional duties adjustment, exceptional safety and health situations, unusual circumstances)

  • Additional duties (estimated number of necessary managers to assume duties = factor): adjustment for time required of safety and health staff for duties unrelated or not directly related to safety and should be performed by other personnel, ideally, e.g., claims processing, workers comp administration, disaster planning, pollution control.
  • Exceptional health and safety situations (estimated number of necessary personnel to assume duties = factor): special staffing considerations for unusually hazardous working environment or operational procedures requiring special qualifications, e.g., extensive processing of radioactive isotopes, extensive chemical, biological laboratories.
  • Unusual circumstances (estimated number of personnel necessary to assume duties = factor): diverse situations sufficient to justify need for additional personnel, e.g., rapidly growing organizations, high employee turnover, unusually poor employee morale.

Example: The Occupational Safety and Health of an FDA Laboratory

A – Number of Employee: 210 (0.8 factor)

B – Degree of Hazard: 70 employees LOW (0.8 factor) = 56; 100 employees MEDIUM (1.5 factor) = 150; 40 employees HIGH (2.5 factor) = 100; TOTAL: 306; Average factor for degree of hazard = 306/210 (1.5 factor)

C – Dispersion: Less than 10% of employees are dispersed beyond same day travel (1.0 factor)

D – Degree of Responsibility for Overall Safety & Health: TOTAL DIRECT (1.5 factor)

E – Degree of Assigned Responsibility for Safety Policies and Procedures: between MINIMAL & PARTIAL (0.5 factor)

F – Established Assignment of Responsibility for Employee Safety & Health to Line Organization: FULL (0.5 factor)

G – Duplication Factor: None

H – Additional Considerations: None

Computation for Required Staffing: 0.8 x 1.5 x 1.0 x 1.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.450

Staffing Required: Part-time Safety and Health Officer to perform safety duties 45% of the time.

Ready to learn more? Check out our free webinar, Safety as We Know It… Is Killing Your Business!

Sign up to the Safeopedia Newsletter to get more great safety info delivered right to your inbox!

Share This Article

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • X

Presented By

Logo for Vivid Learning Systems Inc

Written by Jill James | Chief Safety Officer

Jill James
Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 12 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

More From Vivid Learning Systems Inc

Go back to top