Occupational health

News from the Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health

Providing and communicating evidence for action and practice: OSH Answer Service

P.K. Abeytunga, (abey@ccohs.ca), Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS);
Stavroula Leka (stavroula.leka@nottingham.ac.uk), Centre of Organisational Health and Development (COHD), University of Nottingham, UK

OSH Answers provides a global web-based information service in a form suitable for workplaces. It is a collection of documents written in an easy-to-read, question-and-answer style. There are about 670 documents containing about 3500 questions and answers. OSH Answers, and the full French counterpart, Réponses SST, allow instant access to reliable and relevant health and safety information 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The topics on which questions and answers are available through this service are priority concerns of most people. The enquiry staff also mail or e-mail the documents in response to inquirers’ questions.

OSH Answers are available in both English and French, and are accessible free-of-charge on the CCOHS web site. A limited number are also available in Spanish via Respuestas OSH. In addition, those documents relevant to Brazil are being translated into Portuguese by SESI- Industrial Social Service National Department, Brasilia.

In fiscal year 2010-2011, (year ending March 31, 2011), OSH Answers and Réponses SST have seen 3.5 million visitors, and almost 6.4 million pages were downloaded (totals include both English and French). On average about 88,500 visitors each month are located in Canada. For this year, a new software package is being used to more accurately track users, the pages they visit, and their location. Reach continues to extend to the world and includes all countries. The service was accessed by users from practically all countries.

This year, CCOHS received122 requests for copyright authorization, resulting in an additional 249,000 copies of OSH Answers information being made. Organizations reproducing this content included government departments, companies, unions, health care organizations and educational institutions. In addition, the information is potentially shared with many more individuals because of the large readership of these documents. Safety professionals often tell us that they use OSH Answers information in their workplaces for training or educational purposes. A continued service is provided by CCOHS with continual updates and upgrades.

OSH Answers continues to enjoy tremendous success in transferring health and safety knowledge and in reaching both Canadians and the world. It is an important tool, because it supports the worker's right-to-know and outlines the employer's responsibility to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace in millions of workplaces around the world.