OHS data and information may be sourced from inside or outside the workplace.
External sources of information – Sources of information external to the workplace include:
- codes of practice, standards and guidance material;
- industry specific information;
- national and international information including conference papers, research papers, journal articles and newspapers;
- search engines and subject directories for Internet web sites and on-line databases; and
- OHS specialist advisors.
This information is particularly useful for OHS risk management and is reviewed in detail in the learning guide BSBOHS504 Apply principles of OHS risk management.
Internal sources of OHS information – Internal sources of OHS information required for legal compliance and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the management of OHS include:
- hazard and incident reports together with details of corrective actions;
- first aid records;
- injury and illness reports;
- workers’ compensation claims records and other compensation details;
- investigation reports;
- trends in absenteeism or sick leave records;
- workplace inspections;
- records of environmental monitoring;
- health surveillance and exposure records;
- maintenance records;
- minutes of meetings including management meetings, staff and workgroup meetings and OHS committee meetings;
- Job Safety Analyses (JSA) and risk assessments;
- reports and audits;
- enforcement notices and actions;
- collated information such as trend analyses of incident and injury reports;
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and hazardous substances/chemical registers;
- documentation related to registered plant;
- performance appraisal records;
- training records; and
- information related to performance measures for the OHS management process.
Accessing sources of OHS information
Different strategies may be required for accessing external and internal information, but it comes down to four basic questions:
- Where is the information located?
- Who holds the information?
- Is any approval required to access the information?
- What skills or technology do I need to access the information?
External data and information
Most external sources of information can be accessed via the Internet.
Effective searching of the Internet requires familiarity with tools such as search engines and subject directories. A selection of these is given below.
Search engines are computer programs that search the web and catalogue pages on the basis of the descriptive terms used.
Subject directories are hierarchical catalogues that list web pages on the basis of a progressive description, ie, Australia/education/institutions/universities/courses/safety might lead you through a hierarchical directory to a list of tertiary OHS courses.
Metasearch engines are computer programs that send a search enquiry to multiple search engines and then compile the results in one format.
The Australian sites listed are capable of exclusively Australian/New Zealand searches or can reach out to the greater web. Note that some global search engines have local capability, ie, www.google.com.au
Internal data and information
Most organisations have much of their data and information stored electronically with some hard copy material. Data and information stored electronically may be in specially designed software packages, simple spreadsheets or other electronic formats.
Thus the person wanting to access OHS information requires basic computer and information technology skills together with some knowledge of how to search the Internet and also how to manipulate internal information management software.
Accessing internal workplace information may also require talking with people to obtain approval to access information or to obtain information held by particular persons. This may require justification of the need and an explanation of the intended use of the information.
The frequency with which the information will be accessed will depend on the type of information, its purpose and the organisational reporting processes.
CRITICALLY EVALUATE INFORMATION AND DATA TO ENSURE ITS ACCURACY, CURRENCY AND RELEVANCE
It is important that the information you retrieve is accurate and relevant. Basing OHS risk management decisions on unreliable information is not only a waste of time but may have tragic outcomes.
The actions to ensure accuracy and relevance may be different for qualitative and for quantitative information, but the principles are the same.
Published by: LMIT