ASSE Educational Standards Committee

Safety Curriculum Guidelines


The ASSE Educational Standards Committee (ESC) developed these safety curriculum guidelines to assist universities in the development of safety curricula and also to assist ASSE Program Evaluators participating in the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation process.

In 2004, the ESC proposed a major change in the safety curriculum criteria that is used by ABET for accrediting safety programs. These criteria will become effective during the 2006 evaluation cycle. The criteria which is outcomes based includes the following:

Baccalaureate Safety Programs must demonstrate the graduates are able to:

  1. Anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and develop control strategies for hazardous conditions and work practices;
  2. Demonstrate the application of business and risk management concepts;
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental aspects of safety, industrial hygiene, environmental science, fire science, hazardous materials, emergency management, ergonomics and/or human factors;
  4. Design and evaluate safety, health, and/or environmental programs;
  5. Apply adult learning theory to safety training methodology;
  6. Identify and apply applicable standards, regulations, and codes;
  7. Conduct accident investigations and analyses;

Each program must have an outcomes assessment process that addresses the above three outcomes as well as the General Criteria Program Outcomes required for all Applied Science Programs. Within this General Criterion there is a specific section on program outcomes and assessment (Criterion 3) and on professional component (Criterion 4). The professional component section includes specific subject areas appropriate to applied science programs but do not prescribe specific courses. This section identifies what the professional component must include:

  • a combination of college level mathematics and basic sciences (some with experimental experience) appropriate to the discipline
  • applied science topics appropriate to the program
  • a general education component that complements the technical content of the curriculum and is consistent with the program and institution objectives

Safety Programs and others interested in accreditation by ABET are strongly encouraged to review the Criteria for Accrediting Applied Science Programs available at under Accreditation – information for programs and institutions - ASAC.

Curriculum Guidelines

The ESC believes the three outcomes above are reflective of current practice as identified by the ASSE. The committee did not want to provide a long list of required courses or topics areas that were common in previous safety curriculum criteria by the BCSP and ABET. The committee believes strongly that programs should be provided flexibility but also believed the three outcomes above did not provide enough input on content areas to include in safety curricula. This was especially true when addressing ASAC Criterion 4 Professional Component items a and b above. This lack of direction could provide frustrations for universities looking for input on developing safety curricula as well as for those asked to evaluate current safety curricula as part of accreditation. Therefore these guidelines were developed to provide some specific input on the appropriate topics to include in meet the math and science requirements as well as the applied science topics in the safety criteria.

Mathematics and Basic Sciences:

Math – Students will demonstrate an ability to apply college algebra and statistics as it pertains to the practice of safety.

Basic Sciences – Students will demonstrate an ability to apply chemistry, physics, and human physiology/biology as it pertains to the practice of safety.

Applied Science Topics:

Table 1 “Topic Areas for Safety Curricula” identifies the appropriate topics to include in safety curricula. This table identifies both required topic areas as well as recommended areas. It is important to remember the topic areas are broad areas that were not intended to be all inclusive. For example, within the Safety Management Topic a program may choose to cover a variety of topics such as human behavior, cost benefit analysis, organizational and management theory, safety program elements, record keeping, etc. Where possible all of these topic areas should be tied in with the three major program objectives discussed at the beginning of these guidelines that deal with recognition, evaluation and control. Universities are encouraged to contact the ASSE ESC for further assistance in the development of safety curricula.

Table 1 “Topic Areas for Safety Curricula”


Recommended Outcomes

1. Occupational Safety

1. Product Safety

2. Safety Management

2. Systems Safety

3. Training Methodologies

3. Construction Safety

4. Industrial Hygiene

4. Fleet Safety

5. Fire Safety & Hazardous Materials

5. Environmental Safety

6. Ergonomics

6. Process Safety

7. Accident Investigation & Analysis

7. Emergency Management

8. Legal Aspects of Safety

8. Risk Management

In 1996, ABET embarked on an accreditation reform effort designed to foster an environment in which each graduate of engineering, technology, computing, and applied science, where the safety curricula resides, possesses the skills necessary for both lifelong learning and productive contribution to the profession, employers, economy, and society. The centerpiece of this reform was a set of criteria for all ABET disciplines that would allow programs to be flexible to constituent needs, to allow them to innovate while still maintaining a strong emphasis on educational quality. This reform re-oriented the accreditation philosophy from program inputs to student outcomes and encouraged constructive interaction with program constituents to maintain educational quality and relevance. The National Conference on Outcomes Assessment for Engineering Education, held in September 1997 and co-sponsored with American Society of Engineering Education, set the stage for the implementation of this reform by allowing educators, university officials, and industry representatives to examine the critical issues involved in this era of mandates for accountability and continuous quality improvement.



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