As in any field of endeavour, information is a key aspect of effective work in occupational safety and health. Practitioners of the discipline have the need to have access to the most up-to-date information – whether scientific, technical, medical or legal – available in the various disciplines that are the components of their field. They must be able to determine the likely risks (and how to reduce them) in the professions and industries they survey. They must know how different legal systems deal with the prevention of these risks, as well as with the consequences of accidents and health impairments that happen when prevention fails.
Historically, SafeWork and its predecessors have had three main avenues for information gathering, treatment and dissemination:
- Maintenance of the various CIS databases and other information products, of which the core products are the CISDOC bibliographic database and the Bulletin (first, printed, now, online) that is based on it. CISDOC covers the safety and health literature published around the world, whether in journals, monographs, training materials or web products. Other CIS products, published alone or in collaboration with other organisms, include the CIS Glossary, the CIS Thesaurus, the International Chemical Safety Cards, the Hazard Datasheets on Occupations, and others.
- Publication of the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, providing authoritative reference information on all topics included in the field. The latest edition, available in print and in electronic format, was the 4th edition of this major reference work. Work on the 5th edition is proceeding today.
- Publication of Codes of Practice, Guidelines, Information Sheets providing detailed and up-to-date information on specific topics