The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) releases two new modules that allow for the tracking of sharps incidents and blood and body fluid exposures among healthcare workers using a system uniquely available for U.S. healthcare facilities on a free, voluntary basis. The system, Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN), collects existing injury data (e.g., date of injury or illness, location of incident, description of illness, days away from work, and other data collected in OSHA logs) among healthcare personnel to (1) help identify job titles at highest risk for injury in their own facility, (2) develop interventions for the safety and health of hospital staff, and (3) objectively measure impact over time.
In addition to the already existing modules that track incidences of slips, trips, and falls, patient handling injuries, and workplace violence, the new modules to track sharp injuries and blood and body fluid exposures give employers and employees the ability to track and analyze most of the common, high risk, preventable injury and exposure events among healthcare workers.
OHSN developers state that this secure electronic occupational safety and health system currently hosts facilities located across 20 states, all which provide data to this web-based portal. Members can use OHSN to analyze and report workplace-specific data to illustrate the magnitude of injury and illness events among workers, monitor the trends, and gain access to a library of resources specific to the healthcare sector.
“An annual survey of OHSN users shows overwhelming support for a system that helps mitigate high-risk aspects of the healthcare industry and guides prevention efforts,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “A commitment to a culture of safety that emphasizes continuous monitoring and improvement benefits not only the worker, but the employer as well.”
The OHSN system allows participants to determine the root cause for each incident, and identify trends to design relevant interventions and measure their impact. The system analyzes the data and presents it visually with easy-to-read charts. With a greater commitment from employers and an even larger sample size of health care facilities using the OHSN system, an increasingly more accurate picture can be drawn, and recommendations, interventions and prevention strategies utilized.
NIOSH encourages healthcare facilities to enroll in the OHSN. To enroll, please visit the enrollment page. Enrollment in the OHSN will help facilities manage, track, and prevent common occupational health injuries among healthcare workers. For more information and background on OHSN, and to start the enrollment process, please visit the OHSN topic page (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ohsn/?s_cid=3ni7d2niupdateOHSN032017).
NIOSH is the Federal Institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.