Background Investigation of incident information is a key part of a surveillance program in a healthy workplace; it allows patterns and trends to be identified. An Occupational Health and Safety Information System (OHASIS), developed by researchers from the University of British Columbia and South Africa, was implemented online in a medical laboratory service in SA in 2012. The system plays a role in collating reported incidents, incident investigations, and storage of occupational health information, hazard assessment, and other services such as hazardous waste management.
Methods Incident data from OHASIS from 2012 to 2015 were extracted and analysed for trends and association with reported root causes. Two employee surveys were also conducted before and 2 years after implementation of the system in a representative random sample of employees.
Results The survey results showed a significant increase in awareness of occupational health and an increase the proportion of staff that had received OHS training. An increasing trend in number of incidents, including near misses, reported to OHASIS was seen, from 279 in 2012 to 467 in 2015. In analysis the incidents most commonly reported were cuts with possible biological exposure. All incidents were most commonly associated with lack of supervision and SOP rushing and the cuts with equipment design and malfunction.
Conclusion The introduction of the information system, OHASIS along with Safety Health and Environment staff, resulted in better management of occupational health and safety, training and increased awareness of occupational health issues in the laboratory along with an increase in the incidents reported. The system as well as being useful in the daily management of occupational health also functions as a surveillance system identifying common root causes resulting in incidents which allows for interventions to be targeted. This information is valuable for protection of an under researched subgroup of healthcare workers.
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