OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH SAFETY NETWORK (OHSN)
Frequently Asked Questions: About OHSN
Here you will find some of our more commonly asked questions. If you have other questions not addressed here, check out our other FAQs provided to OHSN users or contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov or 513-841-4337.
What is the overall goal of OHSN?
- Serve as a resource for U.S. healthcare facilities
- Analyze, monitor, and report trends in injury and illness events among workers at participating facilities
- Provide a library of resources for preventing injury and illness events specific to the healthcare sector
How was OHSN created?
OHSN was created by researchers at NIOSH. In developing OHSN, we collaborated with CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Like NHSN, OHSN is a system intended to improve safety in healthcare; however, OHSN aims to improve the safety of healthcare workers, whereas NHSN focuses on patients. OHSN enrollment began in July 2013. The program is open to all types of inpatient healthcare facilities in the United States who have an American Hospital Association number. We collaborated with healthcare facilities, software vendors, and other stakeholders to ensure the program was useful. Working with our stakeholders, we created standard data elements and value sets that align with the information most commonly collected at the facility level.
How does OHSN benefit healthcare facility systems?
There are many benefits for single healthcare facilities to use OHSN, but healthcare systems, which encompass multiple facilities, have additional benefits. OHSN enables users to identify the most concerning healthcare worker safety issues within each facility and compare injury and exposure rates among the facilities within their system.
Questions Related to Participating in OHSN and Level of Involvement
Who can sign up to participate in OHSN?
An Occupational Health Nurse or staff responsible for documenting employee work-related injuries are the primary users of OHSN. Only facilities with an American Hospital Association number are eligible to join OHSN. OHSN serves healthcare facilities in the United States. Outpatient clinics or specialist who belong to hospitals are included in the definition of outpatient department. Independent doctor’s office are not able to participate in OHSN at this time. If you are interested in participating in OHSN, but are unsure if you are eligible, please contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov.
What should I expect once I complete and submit my enrollment form?
Once you submit an enrollment request form, it will be sent to the OHSN team for review. If your facility or system meets all requirements for enrollment into the OHSN system, you will be sent an email notifying that you meet the OHSN requirements along with a Data Use Agreement. When the Data Use Agreement has been signed and returned to us, you will receive secure access to OHSN and may then begin upload monthly data into OHSN and generate your own analyses and reports. Once you have access to your data, you can add or delete members in your facility who have access to your data. Remember that you can ask for NIOSH help any time by sending an email to NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov.
How many events must I track to participate in OHSN?
OHSN allows facilities to monitor five common, high risk, preventable injury and exposure events among healthcare workers. As a participant in OHSN, you can track injuries/illnesses from one or more:
- Patient handling
- Slips, trips and falls
- Workplace violence
- Sharps injuries
- Blood and body fluid exposures
Facilities may also use OHSN to track general information on other injuries and illnesses outside of these events. If you have questions about this, please contact us at NIOSHOHSN@CDC.Gov
If we choose to track traumatic injuries, do we have to track injuries for all three injury events (slips, trips, falls; workplace violence; and patient handling)?
No, you may choose to submit data for one, or more, of these traumatic injury events. Facilities may also choose to use OHSN to track general information on other injury and illness events outside of these injury events. If you have questions about this, please contact us at NIOSHOHSN@CDC.Gov
Questions Related to Data
If I use a commercial software to log my facility’s injury data, what do I need to do to get my data ready to upload into OHSN?
If you use a commercial software to log your facility’s traumatic injury, sharps injury, and blood and body fluid exposures you will need to export your data to an Excel file. Then you will convert the Excel file to the OHSN format (an XML file) using our OHSN Conversion Tool. Once your data are in the OHSN format (XML), they can be uploaded into OHSN. To learn more about this process, see the OHSN User Manual or contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov.
If I use Excel to log my facility’s injury and/or exposure data, what do I need to do to get my data ready to upload into OHSN?
If I use EPINET to log my facility’s sharps injury and blood and body fluid exposure data, what do I need to do to get my data ready to upload into OHSN?
Once you log your injuries into EPINET, you will need to convert your file to the OHSN format (an XML file) using our OHSN Conversion Tool. Once your data are in the OHSN format, they can be uploaded into OHSN. To learn more about this process, see the OHSN User Manual or contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov.
If I do not have my data in a commercial software, what should I do to get my data ready to upload into OHSN?
If you do not currently use Excel or an in-house software to log your facility’s traumatic injury data, you will need to download our Traumatic Injury Excel template (standard or detailed). Once you have entered your data, you will download our OHSN Conversion Tool to convert your Excel file to the OHSN format (an XML file). The XML file can then be uploaded into OHSN.
For your exposure data (sharps injuries and blood and body fluid exposures), we recommend you use EPINET (Don’t have EPINET? Download it free). Once you log your exposure data into EPINET, you will convert your EPINET file to the OHSN format (an XML file) using the OHSN Conversion Tool. Once the XML file is created, upload the file into OHSN.
How quickly can I view data I submit?
Where can I learn more about standardizing my local terms to the terms OHSN uses?
If I have problems standardizing my local terms to terms used in OHSN, can NIOSH help?
Yes! The OHSN team is dedicated to providing timely help regarding any issue that may arise during the matching or “mapping” process. If you need further help with standardizing your terms to terms used in OHSN, or if do not understand the terms, review our Standard Occupational Data Architecture (SODA) document. This document provides all terms as well as definitions that we use during the mapping process. We also provide help via email, conference call, or potentially a web-based seminar.
Do I need to modify the data I am already collecting to participate?
No, you will not need to collect any new information to participate in OHSN. We created standard data elements that align with the information most commonly collected by facilities. The first time you prepare to submit your data to OHSN, you will use the OHSN Conversion Tool to standardize your local terms to the terms used in OHSN. For example, you may refer to your critical care unit as the SICU, while others refer to it as the “East Wing”; OHSN provides a standard name for this and will help you determine what category you should choose, such as “LO101 – Inpatient Adult Critical Care Units.” Once terms are standardized, they do not need to be standardized again. You can learn more about standardizing and the OHSN Conversion Tool in the OHSN User Manual or in our Standardized Occupational Data Architecture (SODA) document. The SODA document describes all OHSN data elements to help with the process of standardizing your local terms to the terms used in OHSN. If you have questions about this, please contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov
Why did OHSN expand to allow facilities to monitor exposure incidents?
The ability to monitor exposure incidents was created in response to stakeholder demand. OHSN will allow facilities to track blood and body fluid exposures and needlestick/sharps injuries. We hope that allowing for better monitoring of these exposures, facilities can decrease the amount of needlestick and blood and body fluid exposures injuries.
Related to Data Security and Privacy
How can I ensure that my information and data will remain secure?
OHSN is maintained on a secure CDC server following the guidelines of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
To use OHSN, it is necessary to create a user account. Facilities control user access rights to their data and the level of access granted.
Contact the OHSN team at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov for more information.
Can anyone see my facility’s data or injury rates?
No, only assigned users at your facility can access your facility’s data set. Each facility’s data is kept private; when data are assessed by NIOSH to provide an overview of rising issues among healthcare workers, the data contain no identifiers.
Can commercial software export to OHSN?
Not yet. We are working with commercial software vendors to incorporate exportable OHSN reports directly into future versions of their software. Vendors that have been in communication with OHSN include:
The NIOSH Standard Occupational Data Architecture (SODA) document guides commercial and noncommercial occupational health surveillance software developers on ways to incorporate OHSN data requirements into their existing applications.
Talk to your software vendors and let them know that you are eager to work with OHSN. If they would like to learn more about OHSN software compatibility for commercial software, see the ReadMe.docx document in the OHSN Software Compatibility Kit or contact us at NIOSHOHSN@cdc.gov or 513-841-4337.
- Page last reviewed: January 9, 2017
- Page last updated: January 9, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies