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What is the Concept for OHSN?

OHSN is a new voluntary and secure electronic occupational safety and health surveillance system developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The first version of OHSN is limited to the healthcare sector (Healthcare Sector Component), but we envision that OHSN will be expanded to other industry sectors in the future. The initial OHSN Healthcare Sector Component focuses on non-infectious occupational safety and health issues among healthcare personnel (HCP), starting with three HCP Traumatic Injury modules.

In developing OHSN, NIOSH collaborated with CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). This system, while primarily focused on patient safety, also includes modules to track infectious disease issues among healthcare personnel. For more information on NHSN, see

The diagram below summarizes how OHSN works.

The Occupational Health Safety Network cycle of data transmission, reporting, monitoring of trends, and prevention strategies

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Healthcare Sector Component

The first version of OHSN will be limited to the healthcare sector, but modules that address other industry sectors may be added in the future. Enrollment opened in July 2013 to all types of inpatient healthcare facilities in the United States.

OHSN makes use of advances in information technology. While maintaining data security and integrity, OHSN has the capacity to share data in a timely manner between participating healthcare facilities and NIOSH to improve the safety and health of healthcare personnel. NIOSH collaborated with healthcare facilities and software vendors to create standard data elements and value sets that align with the information most commonly collected already at the facility level. NIOSH has also created tools that will allow healthcare facilities to convert their existing data to OHSN data elements for benchmarking. In addition, the OHSN team is working with private sector vendors so facilities collecting data using commercially-available systems will be able to voluntarily upload those data electronically into OHSN.

In summary, OHSN will harmonize core occupational health data elements into one surveillance system to integrate the existing patchwork of occupational safety and health surveillance activities within individual healthcare facilities into a uniform surveillance system. At the institutional level, OHSN will give healthcare facilities the ability to directly compare (“benchmark”) their experiences against aggregate data from other facilities, and thus to use their surveillance data more effectively to enhance prevention programs. At the national level, OHSN will help achieve the goal of widespread compatibility in occupational safety and health surveillance data among U.S. healthcare facilities.

Purposes of OHSN

  • Serve as a surveillance resource for U.S. workplaces
  • Analyze and report workplace-specific and aggregated data to illustrate the magnitude of injury and illness events among workers and to monitor trends in these events
  • Provide a library of resources for prevention of injury and illness events specific to the healthcare sector

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Benefits to Workplaces Participating in OHSN

With OHSN, workplaces can:

  • Benchmark their internal rates and trends against aggregate data from similar workplaces
  • Get help from NIOSH in comparing patterns of injuries (e.g., types of healthcare personnel involved, risk factors, circumstances causing injuries), and identifying the most promising prevention strategies
  • Assess the impact of prevention efforts on occupational health and safety over time
  • Learn about effective and innovative intervention tools shared by NIOSH and other OHSN participating facilities
  • Join a community of leaders and champions from healthcare facilities and NIOSH to share lessons learned about preventing traumatic injuries among healthcare personnel
  • Track their own data to meet regulatory and accreditation requirements of OSHA and The Joint Commission

Data Security

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has managed many national occupational surveillance systems. NIOSH will maintain data security and integrity. NIOSH will ensure that data from facilities will be used only in aggregate for the stated purposes of analyzing data without personal or hospital identifiers.

How Data Will Be Used

Data collected in OHSN will be used for improving worker safety at the local and national levels. At the national level, NIOSH will analyze and publish surveillance data, in aggregate and without personal or hospital identifiers, to estimate and characterize the national burden of healthcare-associated injuries. At the local level, the data analysis features of OHSN will enable participating facilities to produce rate tables and graphs that compare their rates with the national aggregate metrics.

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  • Page last reviewed: February 26, 2014
  • Page last updated: February 26, 2014 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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