by Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH

What if hospitals were able to further benefit from the data they collect to meet OSHA regulatory and Joint Commission accreditation requirements? What if your data could be used to hone in on trends and patterns in your hospital, highlight the specific area of risk, and provide the opportunity to implement tailored prevention strategies and measure successful impact?

The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) does just that.

OHSN is a free, web-based system designed by NIOSH to reduce preventable injuries and illnesses among healthcare personnel. OHSN fills the gap for the need of a tool that can monitor work-related injuries by using specific, standard information that includes the root causes of injuries among healthcare workers and reporting this information directly back to participating hospitals in a timely manner to guide interventions.

More and more hospitals are using OHSN to analyze their data in minute detail, to take advantage of the user-friendly and visually appealing graphs and charts, and to monitor patterns of injuries (e.g., types of healthcare personnel involved, risk factors, circumstances causing injuries), while identifying the most promising prevention strategies.

The OHSN addresses several existing challenges in traditional hospital occupational health surveillance and is a catalyst for prevention in several key ways:

  • Timeliness of reports: OHSN data are uploaded by the healthcare facility monthly or quarterly; these new data set are available for analysis by the facility within 7-10 days. Previously submitted data is available continuously. This is in stark contrast to traditional data collection and analysis that can take months and even years.
  • Flexibility of reports: OHSN enables healthcare facilities to choose their individual injury variables of interest. Facilities are also able to select the denominator for calculating rates: full-time employees (FTEs), bed size, or number of monthly admissions.
  • Real time up-to-date output: OHSN’s output is available on a secure website 24/7, customized and up-to-date.
  • Compatibility in surveillance systems: OHSN enables healthcare facilities to view OHSN reports that clearly show their individual rates, trends overtime, and objectively measure intervention impact.

Two New Modules

In addition to the already existing modules that track incidences of slips, trips, and falls, patient handling injuries, and workplace violence, two new modules allow for tracking of sharps incidents – currently hospitals are more likely to be cited for violations of the bloodborne pathogens standard than any other standard. The U.S. is currently one of the few industrialized countries lacking a nationally standardized sharps injury and blood and body fluids surveillance system. The sharps injury and blood and body fluid exposure modules contribute to the NIOSH and CDC goal of reducing preventable bloodborne pathogen exposures among healthcare workers.

How it Works

The OHSN created a one-stop shop for tracking many of the most prevalent, serious, and preventable occupational exposures and injuries to healthcare workers. OHSN promotes the ability of participating facilities to implement research-based interventions for reducing injuries and then measure the impact of those interventions for their workers.

OHSN uses standard definitions and a user-friendly system. Since hospitals have to collect data anyway under OSHA standards, those data can be used in OHSN to generate hospital-oriented trends, and identify gaps and opportunities for intervention.

Once enrolled in the system, hospitals can export their facility’s data into the system. It will then be ready to be accessed and analyzed within 7-10 days to identify common injuries and exposure occurring at their facility(s). The OHSN system allows users to analyze the data and produce tables and graphs that empower participants to then ascertain prevention opportunities. For example, if a hospital sees that there is a spike in sharps injuries during a specific time period in a specific location of the hospital, intervention, and evaluation of that intervention, becomes possible.

Healthcare systems, which include multiple hospitals that employ thousands of employees, can compare injury rates among all hospitals in their system. Healthcare systems can then determine...Click here to read the rest of the blog post (and get information on how to join the community.