The Occupational Health Safety Network: Empowering and Optimizing Prevention Decision-Making

Posted on 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 what hospitals in their system are experiencing higher injury rates to focus their prevention efforts.

OHSN is also a great resource for prevention tools to address the injuries and illnesses tracked.



Over 120 participating hospitals located in 20 states in the mid-west, south, northeast and west are using OHSN to guide intervention efforts and objectively measure impact in their facilities. An annual survey of OHSN participants and feedback from national leaders in surveillance indicated an overwhelming support for this system that is easy to use and guides prevention efforts. Participant feedback and this video show the value of the system:

“The important thing about this is that we can see our injury trends,…and most importantly we can develop ways to make our health care workers safer.” – Participant from Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health

“We have limited resources, and when we have limited resources we have to use data to help point us in the direction of where we can get the best bang for the buck….We use the data from OHSN to define where to put our energies and where to spend the dollars to have the greatest effect in reducing work place injuries and harm to the healthcare worker.” – Participant from Mountain & Plains Education and Research Center, Colorado School of Public Health

“We have 12 hospitals in our organization as well as homecare services, behavior health, corporate health services, and we take care of the 27,000 employees of our organization, it’s a healthcare organization. One advantage for us, because we are a larger healthcare system with multiple facilities at the system level we can…compare [injury rates among] each of our hospitals.” – Participant from BJC Occupational Health Services, BJC Healthcare


Joining the Community

Could your hospital benefit from participating in this OHSN system? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave your comment and questions below!

To join a growing network and experience the user-friendly web-based network system, click here to start the enrollment process.

For more information visit the OHSN website


Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH

Dr. Gomaa is a Medical Officer in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies.



Posted on by Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH

5 comments on “The Occupational Health Safety Network: Empowering and Optimizing Prevention Decision-Making”

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    In Brazil, the authorities are completely confused about diseases. We hope zika and ammarella fever will never reach the United States.

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Page last reviewed: March 29, 2017
Page last updated: March 29, 2017