Occupational and Environmental Safety Management

OESM instructor teaching in a classroom

Program Mission

The Occupational & Environmental Safety Management program's mission is to:

  • Provide the community with affordable, flexible, and up-to-date training on occupational and environmental safety and health.
  • Promote workplace health & safety and environmental protection through education and training.

Program Description

Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health is a growing field.

  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Center for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded in its 2011 study that "The national demand for safety and health services will significantly outstrip the number of men and women with the necessary training, education, and expertise to provide such services.". It was estimated that for the following five years, only 12,000 safety and health graduates would enter the job market compared with 25,000 job openings.
  • A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of safety and health practitioners should increase eight percent during the 2016 – 2026 decade.
  • The National Safety Council reported that between 2014 and 2018, at least one quarter of the organizations surveyed had expanded their safety and health departments.

The program provides practical training in occupational and environmental safety and health. The curriculum offers a broad background on safety and health program administration, workplace hazard recognition/evaluation/control, emergency preparedness, workers' compensation principles, hazardous chemical risk assessment, and environmental compliance. Besides an Associate Degree, the program offers a Certificate of Achievement in OESM.

Graduates from the OESM program are qualified to work as occupational safety and health professional and environmental technicians in public and private industries including construction, healthcare, utilities, transportation, environmental management, insurance, education, etc. Job placement opportunities are announced throughout the year.

Program Prerequisites

  • Placement in ENG 100
  • "C" or higher in MATH 25 or MATH 75X, OR Placement in MATH 100/103/115

Degrees That Can Be Earned

  • Associate in Science (AS)
  • Certificate of Achievement (CA)

Cost of Textbooks/Supplies

  • Tuition based on total number of credits taken.
  • The cost of supplies and textbooks is approximately $200-$400 per semester.

Upon successful completion of the OESM program, students will be able to:

  • Recognize and evaluate workplace and environmental hazards.
  • Recommend control measures and accident prevention strategies.
  • Identify and apply appropriate OSHA/HIOSH and EPA regulatory requirements.
  • Analyze proximate and root causes of work-related accidents.
  • Develop a written accident prevention and safety management program.
  • Conduct training and presentations on occupational/environmental safety and health topics.
  • Exercise choices, explain reasons for choices, and analyze potential consequences when dealing with ethical dilemmas concerning health and safety professionals.
  • Demonstrate necessary knowledge and skills for employment in the field of occupational and environmental safety and health.

Our program technical standards have been developed to help students understand the minimum essential mental, physical, and behavioral skills necessary for participation in and completion of all core aspects of our curriculum.

Thinking Skills


Appropriately apply regulations and professional guidelines to evaluate and manage workplace and environmental health and safety.


  • Read textbooks and handouts.
  • Read and interpret federal, state and local laws and regulations.
  • Paraphrase OSHA/HIOSH standards.
  • Identify pertinent laws and regulations addressing health and safety issues.
  • Analyze causes and effects of workplace and environmental health and safety conditions.
  • Search for resources using the Internet.
  • Visualize three-dimensional objects from pictures or descriptions.
  • Recognize toxic materials and other harmful agents.
  • Explain concepts and techniques of inspections.
  • Follow procedures for inspection and accident investigation.
  • Use mathematical formulas and equations.
  • Propose controls for workplace/industrial health and safety hazards.
  • Discuss the principles and techniques of workers' compensation management.
  • Examine physical, chemical, and biological hazards.
  • Classify industrial hygiene monitoring instruments and their uses.
  • Perform emergency response procedures for chemical and physical exposures in industrial and field settings.
  • Develop written safety programs in compliance with HIOSH standards.

Sensory/Observation Skills


Make independent observations and assessments of health and safety conditions.


  • Scan environment for indicators of hazardous conditions.
  • Read meters, gauges, and other monitoring devices.
  • Recognize warning signs and labels.
  • Distinguish identifying colors, shapes, and forms of objects and materials.
  • Recognize clues of potential chemical exposure.
  • Select appropriate materials, tools and equipment to control hazards.
  • Investigate accidents.

Motor Skills


Possess sufficient physical strength, flexibility, and dexterity to participate in field activities.


  • Travel to various work sites.
  • Practice emergency response skills.
  • Don personal protective equipment.
  • Participate in outdoor hands-on field training in hazard analysis, site control and evaluation.
  • Conduct on-site inspections of facilities.
  • Use environmental monitoring instruments.
  • Maintain regular attendance in field training activities.
  • Diagram accident scenes.
  • Photograph accident scenes.

Communication Skills


Communicate effectively to gather and convey information.


  • Obtain necessary information from oral and written sources.
  • Express information coherently.
  • Conduct training sessions and oral presentations in class.
  • Interview employees.
  • Document information accurately.

Behavioral Skills


Behave appropriately and safely in a shared learning environment.


  • Work independently with minimal supervision.
  • Work cooperatively with partners and groups.
  • Follow through with individual and shared responsibilities.
  • Exercise good judgement.
  • Follow safety procedures.
  • Conduct oneself according to professional and ethical standards of the field.

Environmental Tolerance


Function safely in classroom and outdoor field training activities.


  • Work for prolonged periods exposed to: Artificial lighting, Air conditioning, Heat, Dust, Various noise levels

1. Will the Occupational and Environmental Safety Management (OESM) program prepare you for a career?

Yes, you can apply for positions such as Safety Administrator, Safety Officer, Safety Specialist,
Environmental Technician, Safety Technician, and Safety Director.

Workplace safety regulations cover all industries, however small "mom & pop" businesses do not hire safety professionals. In Hawaiʻi , safety professionals work for governmental agencies, healthcare, hotels/services, construction, maritime, transportation, environmental firms, colleges & universities. Etc.

Besides academic background, employers look at various qualifications including work ethics, communication and interpersonal skills, etc. Your ability to network and make independent decisions is also important.

2. In the OESM field, what are the specifics of industry recognized certifications?

The EHS profession recognizes the following board- certified certifications from nationally recognized boards. In all instances, you need to pass exams:

  • Certified Safety Professional (CSP)
  • Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
  • Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
  • Construction Safety and Health Technician (CHST)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST)
  • Safety Trained Supervisor (STS)

Honolulu Community College does not certify students with these national certifications.

3. Are you able to get industry recognized certificates of completion of training for specific OESM courses?

Yes, for certain OESM classes offered by certain instructors. You will receive OSHA certificates upon completion of OESM classes with a "C" or higher grade. Check with OESM program liaison or counselor for specifics. In Spring and Fall 2011, the following certificates were awarded:

OESM Class OSHA Certificate
218: Emergency Response for Hazmat 40-hr HAZWOPER (29 CFR 1910.120)

4. When are the OESM classes offered?

OESM classes are offered year round in the fall and spring semesters at the main campus. OESM classes meet once per week in the evenings from 5pm to 7:50pm or on Saturdays. The following required courses are offered:

  • Fall semesters: 101, 105, 106, 160, 210 193V
  • Spring semesters: 102, 104, 208, 193V

Additionally, future course offerings in OESM are posted on the OESM website. This is a tentative schedule of when OESM classes will be offered. You can also view class offerings per semester at Honolulu Community College's website at Class Availability.

5. Is there anything unique about the OESM program and the OESM courses?

In addition to the features on the OESM homepage, the OESM program has a strong network of support within the safety and environmental professional community. Employers, many of which are OESM alumni hire interns and full time employees from the OESM program.

6. What are the requirements for the OESM 193 cooperative education course?

OESM 193V is the internship course where you would be using your work experience in the OSEM field as an integral part of the course. OSEM 193V for one credit is required for the associates degree. Internship may lead to employment opportunities. For more information, go to links on OESM website.

7. What course should you take in your first semester in the program if you meet the program prerequisites of placement in ENG 100 and MATH 100, 103, 115?

OESM 101 and OESM 106 if you begin in the fall. OESM 104 if you begin in the spring.

8. What courses can you take in your first semester in the program if you do not meet the program prerequisites?

  • English courses leading up to ENG 100
  • Math courses leading up to MATH 115

9. Should you purchase textbooks before the semester begins?

Yes, it is a good idea to purchase your textbooks prior to the beginning of the semester. If you wait until your first day in class, all the textbooks may have sold out. You would also avoid the chaos of the first week of the semester.

10. As a student with a full time day job, is it possible to complete the OESM program with evening or weekend or distance education (DE) courses?

OESM courses are offered in the evening and weekends in hybrid or in-person classes. General education courses are offered in the evening or distance education.

11. What course waiver/ substitutions are typically accepted?

  • CHEM 105 may be substituted with CHEM 151 and 151L provided you earned a "C" or higher grade. Certain other CHEM courses above 151 have also been accepted as substitutions.
  • BIOL 100 may be substituted with BIOL 171 or higher.

See an academic counselor to complete the course waiver substitution forms. If you are receiving veteran's benefits, the form must be approved before your courses can be certified for veteran's benefits. If you are currently enrolled in the course, see the counselor to complete the form. Substitution will be posted to your record once all approvals are received and grade is posted.

12. Will you be able to transfer college courses, Advanced Placement (AP) scores or CLEP scores for the OESM degree?

Yes, college courses, AP scores and CLEP scores that are applicable or count toward the OESM degree can be accepted in transfer however grade, grade points and grade point averages cannot be transferred. Your GPA at Honolulu CC will be based on your grades at Honolulu CC.

Courses completed at a University of Hawaiʻi (UH) institution are generally accepted in transfer with a "D" or higher grade. Courses from regionally accredited U.S. institutions with grades of "D" or higher are generally accepted in transfer provided grade is offset with a "B" or higher grade.

You can find out whether your college course or AP scores or CLEP scores will be accepted in transfer by going to the UH System Course Transfer Database. Go to the UH System Course Transfer Database and follow the directions. If your course is not listed, provide Records Office with the course descriptions. Descriptions will be attached to the official transcript received from the non-UH system institution you attended.

To have a transcript evaluated, do the following:

Request that the institution that you attended send an official transcript and course descriptions (if from a non-Hawaiʻi institution) to Honolulu CC Records Office. If the institution is part of the UH system, an official transcript does not need to be sent as Honolulu CC can view your record at other UH system institutions.

Complete the Transcript Evaluation Request form [PDF] to trigger evaluation of your transcripts. Submit completed form to Honolulu CC's Records Office.

Honolulu CC Records Office
874 Dillingham Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96817
(808) 845-9120

13. Will you be able to use safety /environmental work experience training for the OESM degree?

Honolulu Community College does not grant college credits for work experience, however does give college credits for certain OESM training. Documentation of training must be provided. Contact the OESM academic counselor for more information.

14. If you take a break from college, can you follow the old program requirements or do you have to follow the current requirements?

If your break from Honolulu community college has been less than one year, you can follow the old requirements. If your break has been one year or more, see an academic counselor.

15. After earning the associate degree in OESM, can you continue for a bachelor's degree at a university?

University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu accepts OESM courses toward their Bachelor of Public Administration degree. View the Articulation Agreement

16. Is there an OESM student club?

There is an ASSP (American Society of Safety Professionals) Student Section which you can join as an OESM student. The Student Section works closely with the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the ASSP. Contact the OESM Program Liaison or Academic Counselor for more information.

Past activities of the Student Section include the Matson-Honolulu CC Clean-up Project (raising $1000 for the Section), Kalihi Sunset in the Park, membership meeting on potential job opportunities, mock interviews, and the Pacific Rim Health and Safety Conference.


Employers' Presentations for OESM Students on November 20, 2018