Guidelines for the
Establishment of
CIS Health and Safety
Information Centres
and Other Information Centres

Sheila Pantry OBE, BA, FCLIP

3rd Revised Edition, June 2011

Previous 2nd Edition, September 1994


Creative Commons Licence This document by Sheila Pantry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Introduction
  2. The purpose of the guideline
  3. Chapter 1: Information and the Roles of ILO/CIS Geneva and the Centre
    1. 1.1 What is Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Information?
    2. 1.2 Who needs this information?
    3. 1.3 Authoritative and validated information
    4. 1.4 The Role of the ILO/CIS and its activities
    5. 1.5 The Reason for Establishing CIS Centres
  4. Chapter 2: ILO/CIS Worldwide Network
    1. 2.1 Occupational Health and safety Centres
    2. 2.2 Services offered by ILO CIS HQ to Centres
    3. 2.3 Services offered by Centres
    4. 2.4 Other services offered to CIS Centres
  5. Chapter 3: How to become a CIS Centre
    1. 3.1 The first steps
    2. 3.2 The Role and Function of a Centre
    3. 3.3 Policy statement of a Centre
  6. Chapter 4: Starting a Centre
    1. 4.1 The Next Steps
    2. 4.2 Financial management
    3. 4.3 Establishing the Information Centre
    4. 4.4 Premises and furniture
    5. 4.5 Office Equipment
    6. 4.6 Centre Staff
    7. 4.7 Training of Information Staff
    8. 4.8 Monthly Reports to Management
  7. Chapter 5: Networking and Locating Sources of Occupational Safety and Health Information
    1. 5.1 Networking
    2. 5.2 How to locate OSH information sources within a country
    3. 5.3 International and National Information Sources
    4. 5.4 Library-based information sources
    5. 5.5 Computer based information sources
  8. Chapter 6: Services to be provided by an Information Centre
    1. 6.1 Acquisitions
    2. 6.2 Organising information
    3. 6.3 Indexes and indexing
    4. 6.4 Abstracts and abstracting
    5. 6.5 How to build up a national database
    6. 6.6 Enquiry Services
    7. 6.7 Reference collection
    8. 6.8 Dissemination of information internally
    9. 6.9 Dissemination of information externally
  9. Chapter 7: Promotion of a Centre
    1. 7.1 Advertising
    2. 7.2 Promotion through Press Releases
    3. 7.3 Writing Articles
    4. 7.4 Organising visits to the Centre
    5. 7.5 Participating in Conferences/Seminars/Exhibitions
    6. 7.6 Publications
    7. 7.7 Publicity package
    8. 7.8 Union List of Journals
    9. 7.9 Create the Centre website, blog etc and a Newsletter
    10. 7.10 Organising Seminars and Training Courses
    11. 7.11 Training by the use of videos / DVDs and e-learning
    12. 7.12 Public Speaking
    1. ANNEX 1: Information to be provided by potential CIS Centres
    2. ANNEX 2: Expected Services response time by a typical Information Centre
    3. ANNEX 3: Setting up a Centre
    4. ANNEX 4: List of OSH Host Services and CD-ROM Producers
    5. ANNEX 5: Example of a Press Release
    6. ANNEX 6: Sample of a Letter Requesting an Exchange Agreement with a Centre in another Country
    7. ANNEX 7: Outline Programme for Training Various Categories of Potential OSH Information Users
    8. ANNEX 8: How to Organise Seminars / Training Courses
    9. ANNEX 9: Training by the use of videos / DVDs / E-Learning
    10. ANNEX 10: Reading List


The purpose of the guideline

The International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the knowledge management arm of the International Labour Office (ILO) Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork). It is known as CIS which stands for the original French name of the centre: "Centre international d'informations de sécurité et d'hygiène du travail". The official name, but not the acronym, was changed later, to: "Centre international d'informations de sécurité et santé au travail". The original English name was, and still is: "International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre".

Its goal is to ensure that workers and everyone concerned with their protection have access to the information they need to prevent occupational injuries and diseases. To achieve this it works with a cohort of countries which constitutes The CIS Network of Centres that have expanded over the years. These include National, Regional and Collaborating Centres.

The purpose of the Guidelines is to provide basic instructions for the establishment of these CIS Centres and to encourage those that have already been established to develop their services, and also to publicise the services available. It is recognised that the procedures will need to be adapted for local conditions.

To avoid discouraging the new centres by introducing a multitude of new tasks and sophisticated equipment, the Guidelines encourage the staff at these centres to take on a limited amount of new work as soon as possible and to increase the range of work and service as confidence and ability develop.

Ideally as each ILO/CIS Centre develops it will be able to:

Chapter 1: Information and the Roles of ILO/CIS Geneva and the Centre

1.1 What is Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Information?

OSH information will be included in, or available from a never ending list of sources such as:

OSH information is in a fast moving area which is constantly being updated and has no country or language boundaries.

Therefore anyone working in any industry or in a commercial enterprise needs to be aware that today's information is probably, somewhere in the world, being updated.

Some of the impetus to update the information base comes from the constant development of the legislation, particularly in technologically advanced countries where new industries, production systems, machines and new chemicals are constantly being introduced. Alongside this novel and sometimes exciting ways of presenting information to the user are developing.

1.2 Who needs this information?

There is a growing awareness of occupational safety and health matters because there is an increased knowledge of possible effects on the health of the workforce from the industrial processes. Where ever their working environment may be - in the air, at sea, in transport, factories, offices, workshops, farms, mines, quarries, educational establishments, retail, hotel and catering trades, construction and engineering - the workers and their employers need to know the latest developments surrounding their particular industry. There is also an increase in general interest in all things to do with personal health and the effects of the environment.

Many people, if not everyone, needs information at some time regarding their own working conditions. With the introduction of legislation, a wide spectrum of people will need OSH information e.g.

1.3 Authoritative and validated information

There is a need for OSH information to be authoritative and most of all, validated. Authoritative information will come from sources or organisations known to have the necessary expertise. There is an increasingly worrying trend that information is being produced which does not appear to have been validated. Some examples are:

1.4 The Role of the ILO/CIS and its activities

The International Labour Organisation Occupational Health and Safety Information Centre, (ILO/CIS), is the main institution within the International Labour Organisation surveying, producing and disseminating information on occupational safety and health to the professionals and members of the public all over the world.

CIS is located within the ILO SAFEWORK Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the Working Conditions and Environment Department. CIS contributes to the attainment of the ILO's strategic objective of enhancing the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all by providing tools that enable constituents to target and take effective action against hazardous conditions in and around the workplace.


The ILO action plan for the promotion of safety and health at work covers:

  1. Promotion, awareness raising and advocacy.
  2. ILO instruments
  3. Technical assistance and cooperation
  4. Knowledge development, management and dissemination
  5. International collaboration

CIS has the following objectives:

  1. to increase the effectiveness of occupational safety and health documentation and information activities in various countries, by pooling the experience and efforts of national specialised organisations,
  2. to collect and disseminate systematically and rapidly all useful information concerning new facts, methods, ways and means relevant to the safety and health of workers in all sectors of the community, and
  3. to contribute to the development of occupational safety and health documentation facilities and techniques and to assist national bodies carrying out this type of work. The work of CIS is supported by a worldwide safety and health information network which includes Centres in many countries throughout the world. Centres work together for a variety of purposes, generally involving the sharing or distribution of materials, information or services.

1.5 The Reason for Establishing CIS Centres

Centres will be the focal point for all organisations that have an interest in occupational health and safety in the countries in which they are established. They will act as a link between the country and the ILO/CIS network and facilitate the exchange of information with organisations in other countries. (See also Chapter 2)

Chapter 2: ILO/CIS Worldwide Network

2.1 Occupational Health and safety Centres

ILO/CIS enlists the collaboration of non-profit making organisations which carry out extensive occupational safety and health activities within a defined country which have adequate facilities for this purpose, and with which it maintains special relations: these are designated National Centres.

In most cases these Centres are governmental agencies or agencies directly involved in Labour matters. In general there is only one National Centre in a country. However, in countries where one Centre cannot satisfy the needs of the whole population, affiliated Centres may be established. These are called CIS Collaborating Centres. The relationship between CIS and the National Centres is mainly based on an exchange of services, and some of those offered by CIS are described below.

2.2 Services offered by ILO CIS HQ to Centres

ILO/CIS achieve the various objectives currently by a number of activities, including computerized services and products which the Centres and other organisations can use. These are:

  1. ILO Encyclopaedia

    The ILO's Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety is a very comprehensive reference source on the subject. The ILO Encyclopaedia is currently (June 2011) undergoing revision and will be mounted on a new website and will be only accessible through the Internet (i.e. no print version). Professor Jeanne Stellman who was the Editor of the 4th edition is coordinating the new project. The new edition of the ILO Encyclopaedia will be linked with other CIS resources and continuously updated. The Encyclopaedia Advisory Board will be established for coordination of updating process.

  2. OSH Thesaurus

    This is in need of updating and it is scheduled to be developed and will be held on the same website as the Encyclopaedia.


    A database of records with abstracts and descriptors sometimes linking to the full text of the document. From Mid year 2011 is available via the Internet using new software to ensure easier access, better navigation to the data.

    Currently about 72,000 records in CISDOC. Updating is about 1250 items per year. New items are selected for input from notification of new documents that the CIS HQ receives each year from Centres and other sources. This is part of the collaboration process.

  4. International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC)

    The English language collection of ICSC is the original version. French, Spanish Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish and Italian collections follow very closely the updates of the English Cards. Subsets of the Cards - and not full collections - are available in various other languages: Hindi, Korean, Russian, Swahili, Thai, and Urdu.

    The ICSC project aims to increase the number of translated versions available and is always seeking the support of additional institutions who could contribute to the translation process.

    For full listing see

  5. Occupational Hazards Datasheets (OHD)

    The listing of OHD is to be continued. CIS Members will be informed when the work starts again.

  6. CIS Centres - list

    Check the list regularly for any updates.

    To go direct to the list see

  7. CIS Annual General Meeting

    CIS headquarters organises the CIS Annual General Meeting to which representatives of all the Centres are invited. It is a forum for discussions on strengthening the collaboration between the Centres and to exchange ideas concerning information relevant to occupational safety and health.

    Every third year the CIS Annual General Meeting is held in conjunction with the ILO World Congress.

  8. World Day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28 April

    The ILO celebrates the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28 April to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. It is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide. Many CIS Centres organise or take part in events on this day.

2.3 Services offered by Centres

The Centres participate in the CIS information dissemination system in several ways. However, it should be noted that the Centres can progressively, depending on their resources, assume some or all of the proposed services and activities.

  1. Collection of documents

    Centres collect and select for dissemination documents covering all aspects of occupational safety and health that are published in their respective countries, in accordance with criteria established by the CIS and giving priority to decrees, regulations, laws etc., concerning occupational safety and health.

  2. Sending original documents to CIS HQ

    Centres should only send to the CIS central services the original of documents if selected for inclusion in the CISDOC database by CIS HQ. Centres may also, if adequate resources exist, prepare bibliographic citations and abstracts (about 100 words) in English, of selected documents, as well as indexing these documents using the CIS Thesaurus. Contact CIS HQ in Geneva for current details.

  3. Liaison activity

    Centres should ensure liaison between the CIS and the users in their countries, and in particular, deal with requests from those users for information and services, publicize the work of the CIS, and answer all requests originating in its country (including those from subscribers) concerning the publications and activities of CIS.

  4. Promotion

    Centres should promote ILO/CIS activities locally to increase the usage of CIS products, through publicity and through direct contact with scientific, technical and medical organisations, and with business enterprises and trade unions.

    (See also Chapter 7).

2.4 Other services offered to CIS Centres

  1. CIS Newsletter


    The CIS Newsletter is a monthly newsletter for the International Labour Organisation ILO International Health and Safety Information Centres and is edited by Sheila Pantry OBE from the UK. The CIS Newsletter has been in existence for 23 years, since 1989, and does not involve the ILO CIS in any costs. Electronic Archive files back to July 2002.

    The CIS Newsletter is NOT an official publication of the ILO but a newsletter containing information from CIS Centres and other sources and is intended to be shared by anyone who finds the data contained useful. Users are free to use and reuse the data in these newsletters.

    The Centres' Newsletter is a unique vehicle for the dissemination of information of mutual interest. It provides news of the activities in Centres, notification of forthcoming conferences, seminars and training opportunities, and technical information produced by National and Collaborating Centres, computerised information services and systems, diary of events, OSH journals, and promotes CIS services. It is published monthly in English and distributed as widely as possible to Centres and many others worldwide.

  2. African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety


    The African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety was established in 1991 as a continuation of the East African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety which started in 1987. The African Newsletter formed an integral part of the African Health Project (Training and Information) of the International Labour Office (ILO) and the project was funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

    The African Newsletter is published three times a year and is free of charge. By publishing the African Newsletter, the FIOH also supports the global occupational health and safety strategies of the International Labour Office (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The newsletter is targeted at 21 English-speaking African countries, but is now distributed worldwide.

  3. Asian-Pacific Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety

    The Asian-Pacific Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety was established in 1994, as a part of the ILO/FINNIDA Asian-Pacific Regional Programme on Occupational Safety and Health. The newsletter is distributed to Asian and Pacific countries but also worldwide. The Asian-Pacific Newsletter is free of charge and comes out three times a year.

    The guiding principle in selecting themes to the Newsletter is to cover the field of occupational health and safety as widely as possible.

  4. Barents Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety

    The Barents Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety is published since 1998 and it provides information to occupational health and safety experts in the countries of the Barents region. The newsletter comes out three times a year. It is published in English and Russian.

  5. The Barents Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety is published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Chapter 3: How to become a CIS Centre

3.1 The first steps

When an organisation is interested in joining the family of CIS Centres as the representative of its country, it must be able to fulfil or create the conditions for the functioning of the centre and meet certain basic requirements (e.g. there should not be an existing National Centre in the country). In the first instance contact should be made with CIS headquarters in Geneva to obtain full information on requirements (see address in this document). CIS will send a copy of a Letter of Agreement that defines the relationship between CIS and a National Centre (the content of the Agreement is explained in 2.2 above) and an information pack on basic CIS activities. In return the applicant organisation should provide CIS with a letter detailing the names, titles, addresses, telephone / telex / fax numbers, emails and websites of the persons who will be responsible for the daily running of the Centre.

In the Annex 1 contains information which should be sent to the CIS headquarters containing further information about the proposed Centre.

3.2 The Role and Function of a Centre

When an organisation decides that for the reasons given above there is justification for the setting up of a Centre in the country in which it is located, certain conditions are essential. These include the availability of at least one trained information person to be responsible for the activities of the Centre and premises which are spacious enough to provide room for storage, equipment and materials in addition to areas in which the staff will carry out their duties.

The organisation in which the Centre is located should also allocate an annual budget to cover the cost of staff salaries, subscription fees for periodicals, the acquisition of documents, computer equipment and telecommunication costs to be able to access OSH information via the Internet etc., and the publication and dissemination of locally arising information.

The information related activities of a unit dealing with occupational safety and health basically consist of the collection, processing, storage and dissemination of information. Additional tasks include promotion of the service, running an enquiry service and organising the information processing functions (including cataloguing and documentation). The Centre should also develop good relations with other national and international information provision units and be aware of other institutions providing information on occupational safety and health and related fields.

In the following Chapters all these items will be discussed in more detail.

3.3 Policy statement of a Centre

Each Centre should write a Policy Statement in order to clarify its mission, goals and objectives, strategies, the principles for financial and personnel management, and output or performance management. A written statement from senior management will ensure that the people involved in the activities of the Centre are aware of the goals and practices.

The mission explains the purpose of the Centre. Goals and objectives are essentially statements of the results intended to be achieved by the Centre. A goal represents an organisation's general aim or direction and should be developed in response to the organisation's mission. Goals are typically long term in nature and may not be bound to any time limits. For instance, a goal might be to "increase the use of our collection" with no mention of the ways to achieve this. Unlike goals, objectives are specific, and are often stated in terms of what is to be done, for and by whom, in what length of time, and to what standard of performance. They should be short term and reflect and be consistent with relevant goals. Strategies are the methods or activities by which objectives are to be accomplished and should describe in adequate detail the means by which particular objectives will be met. The evaluation process should also be described because it is essential for the Centre to determine the degree to which goals have been achieved.

Financial management is the process or operational activity through which is obtained and maintained a record of the use of the funds available for the information centre operation. The efficiency of the Centre is dependent on this being carried out accurately. The sources of funding vary widely, but all income items (including fees charged for client services) must be taken into consideration. Budgeting is the principle means by which management can describe planned activities in terms of cost. Personnel management includes recruitment, training and development of staff, salary administration, performance evaluation, and employee relations.

Finally the performance or output of the Centre should also be measured. This may be achieved by keeping accurate records of enquiries and customer visits, checks on customer satisfaction, the use and production of materials, and the extent to which they are disseminated. (See Chapter 4 for further details)


Mission, purpose, objectives and key strategies

Our mission is to ensure that the Information Service is the prime supplier of validated and authoritative occupational safety and health related information, at an appropriate level of understanding, in the country.

Our purpose is to provide customers, internally as a priority, and externally, with access to that information.

The key strategies by which we will achieve our objectives are:

To achieve this we will:

Timescale and funding:

Examples of response times for services from a typical information centre are given in Annex 2.

Chapter 4: Starting a Centre

4.1 The Next Steps

Starting a Centre is really starting a business - that of providing information services to customers both within the organisation, and also externally which will include the public and perhaps other government departments.

As with all businesses, finance underpins all activities and the Centre Manager will need to be able to plan the Centre's location, activities, forecast future trends in usage, organise services and systems, recruit, motivate, control and train staff, and innovate new services.

There are five fundamental aspects of management:

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Motivation
  4. Control
  5. Innovation

All these aspects have finance as a common denominator. Consequently, it is important for the Centre Manager to understand how each of these aspects have to be monitored and appraised to ensure that services being provided are cost-effective.


Planning goes hand in hand with policymaking, so the Manager will need to be fully aware of the policies and politics of the parent organisation. Planning includes obtaining premises for the Centre; making all services work effectively; meeting user needs in accordance with the aims and objectives of the organisation; ensuring that future requirements can be assimilated in the programme of the Centre.


Given the organisation's aims and objectives, organising the Centre to meet these is one of the manager's main functions. The manager needs to be able to organise staff, services and systems.


Motivating staff and others to achieve the various objectives set for the Centre may prove to be one of the most difficult areas of work which the manager will have to tackle. It is crucial for the successful manager who needs to achieve the goals which the Centre will be required to reach. It is likely that the Centre Manager may have to motivate staff who are older, who have more experience, or perhaps jaded in their outlook, or simply do not wish to respond to any new initiatives. To get staff to work efficiently and effectively requires in turn good staff selection; effective and continuous training; and some benefits for the staff, such as enhanced job satisfaction.

The Centre Manager will also need to motivate the management of the organization into funding the services adequately. This task will require a different set of motivating factors/skills:


Controlling the Centre requires the application of a wide range of managerial skills, and an awareness of many related environmental factors such as:

The Manager will need to be able to assess priorities and reorder the priority list if necessary, but at the same time meet the users demands.


Not all managers are natural innovators, so this particular element may have to be totally delegated or be bought in from consultants. No information service can afford to be static; it must continually search for new ways to improve and implement services which take the organisation forward.

4.2 Financial management

The management of finance is composed of a number of elements:

  1. Controlling the spending of an allocated budget, which may also involve the delegation of parts of this process to units within the organisation.
  2. Planning, identifying and estimating the costs of services present and future. This may include staff costs
  3. Minimising the cost of acquiring, processing and using resources: that is obtaining the best value for money. Here the manager needs to be aware of the options available in all the systems and services being operated. It will require detailed knowledge of the cost of each of the services provided.

What is budgeting?

The process of budgeting is balancing what is needed with what can be afforded. All organisations need appropriate budgeting arrangements to be able to allocate resources. Budgeting helps in making decisions about plans and priorities which best suit the organisation's aims and objectives such as:

Types of budgets

The Centre manager needs to be aware that there are a number of different types of budget. They are:

  1. Cash flow budget: income/expenditure balance sheet.
  2. Capital expenditure. There will always be a number of projects requiring capital funding, e.g. new computer equipment, accommodation, fixtures and furnishings.
  3. Training budget. This budget will allow staff training to take place. It will be necessary to have a policy on how much will be allocated per staff member.
  4. Travel and subsistence budget. It will be necessary to cost or substantiate travel and subsistence costs, especially for any training which may be required outside of the organisation.

What are budget estimates and forecasts?

Each year the Centre Manager may be required to estimate the cost of running the information Centre. This can be done in the traditional way - that is estimates are based on the amounts allocated in the previous year plus a percentage for inflation. Another way is zero-based budget estimate, which ignores previous allocations made and focuses on making a new justification of why the expenditure is needed and the cost benefits of such a budget.

The following questions will need answering as each new budget is forecasted:

  1. What are the current and likely future objectives of the user (client) groups?
  2. Will the demands of the Centre's services be any greater that in the previous year? If so what will these be? For example, an increase in the number of visitors to the Centre.
  3. Will the demands for the Centre be any less than in the previous year?
  4. Will faster services be needed? If so what will be the time scale?
  5. Is the service still required?
  6. Can it be done by anyone else?
  7. Can it be done differently?
  8. Is it cost-effective? Will a lesser standard still be as effective?
  9. Is the time scale realistic?

All these factors add up: quality, quantity, time and actual cost. Information provision is not, and never has been cheap, but efficiently organised it can be cost-effective and of great benefit to the parent organisation and all the users.

4.3 Establishing the Information Centre

The facilities essential for an information unit include premises with electricity, water, heating (or cooling), standard safety devices, furniture and various types of equipment for shelving and storage, information retrieval, printing, telecommunication and exploitation of audio-visual material.

The basic set-up for a newly established Centre, including physical facilities, equipment, personnel and materials is described in Annex 3. It should be noted that the set-up described is an example and should be adapted for local conditions. Also every single piece of information (e.g. a major reference book) or equipment (e.g. personal computers) may be expensive and may need to be acquired step by step. This Chapter describes what should be available in an established Centre.

4.4 Premises and furniture

A problem which most Information Centres will have to face is finding space, whether to house an expanding collection and associated equipment or to seat an increasing number of staff and users. The assessment of space requirements is not an easy task. It is possible that the increasing use of computers and microforms may reduce the need for space, but it should be assumed that the collection in an information centre will grow in the conventional manner, and plan for adequate space accordingly. The following items must be taken into consideration when planning the physical facilities:

Premises should be located as centrally in the town/city as possible, preferably on the ground floor if housed in a large building with provision for

The Centre should aim to have an "inviting look" to OSH information seekers. Even if funds do not allow for expensive furniture etc there are a number of ways in which the Centre can achieve an efficient look.

Entrances and pathways. Entrances should be brightly painted and all pathways weed free, and any flower beds kept attractive. Any plants in the reception area should be well kept. Dead plants do give the appearance of a "don't care / none efficient organisation".

Signs Boards should be clearly sited at the entrance to the building or driveway, so that visitors are able to see where the Centre is located.

Notice Boards / Display Boards and Tables should be regularly cleared of old, out of date information about seminars/conferences which have been held in the past. Any display tables need to be checked daily for appearance and any items, particularly free items replenished.

Inside the Information Centre The following will help to give an efficient atmosphere:

4.5 Office Equipment

Computers are fundamental to information centre operations, as they are to most organisations. Access to the Internet for searching and retrieving information, and likewise email access is absolutely essential.

Copying Machines - the photocopier is essential for the duplication of newsletters, information sheets, and other materials to be disseminated to the end users of health and safety information.

Furniture in an information centre included everything needed for office work, (tables, chairs, armchairs, desks, cupboards, trolleys, etc). It should be robust and preferably of modular construction, i.e. consisting of a limited number of standard units which can be joined together on one side at least. Catalogues of suitable furniture may be obtained from existing Centres or from known suppliers of office equipment in the town or city nearest the Centre. Similar items may then be purchased via the usual channels or from local suppliers.

Computers, in a general sense, help to transform data into information. They accept data from the outside world, process that data into useful form, and then perhaps after storing it temporarily, make the resulting information available again to the outside world. Today personal computers are relatively cheap, and efficient enough for the needs of a small information centre. They can be used for several tasks according to the installed software e.g. word processing, desktop publishing, database management and accounting.

Compact Disc/DVD Readers - most computers are now supplied with DVD Players, CD-ROM drives, or even "Blu-ray" players.

Software or computer programs make the use of computer technology a reality. The basic software for an information centre can be divided into three groups: word processing, desktop publishing, and database management.

Printers are essential - especially providing printout of OSH references or printing full text documents.

Audiovisual equipment: There a large number of films, videos, collections of slides and transparencies produced, mainly for training purposes, in the field of occupational safety and health. In order to utilise this type of material an information centre needs the appropriate equipment and this could include an overhead projector, slide projector, television and a video recorder, DVD player or even a "Blu-ray" player.

Other materials: The new information centre will also need a set of standard Forms (e.g. loan request, journal request, inter-library loan internal form, due date cards) in order to manage the loan of documents etc. General clerical materials, labels for books, shelves and filing cabinets are also required.

Maintenance and repair service for equipment which is purchased should be available locally, a factor to be taken into consideration when selecting the equipment. This will also need funding.

Communications is an important topic not only as it relates to receiving queries and transmitting responses, but also during intermediate stages of the information centre's operations. A direct telephone line is an essential element to serve clients and to communicate within the organisation. In order to maintain contacts with other information centres and information sources and producers throughout the world telex or facsimile equipment is useful.

Facsimile / telefax / Fax is a relatively old method of message transmission, but still may be useful to receive information that has not been computerised.

The Security of an information centre includes protection of personnel, collections, equipment, physical facilities and information from harm, including physical attack, theft and accidental damage. A successful security programme must involve integrated strategies: personnel, policies and equipment all have their place and are equally important. The security of books and other collections is a necessary responsibility of the Centre's staff. Whether the problem is called theft or unauthorised borrowing, a book removed from a collection without proper recording of the fact may cause rightful user requests to be unfulfilled.

Storage. There should be enough storage space for the collections. Formats of bibliographic materials usually determine the manner in which they are stored. Materials with a book-like shape are stored upright on shelves with labelled spines outward if the size of the items permit. Formats that are not book-like can be put into book-like boxes and intershelved with other book materials.

Bookshelving can be open (users are given direct access to materials on the shelves); closed (users are not allowed direct access, and must request materials through the information centre staff); or mixed (a combination of open and closed shelves for different users). Materials which are in greatest demand are made directly accessible, while less used materials are stored in closed areas.

Original computer software (back-up equipment should always be bought), CD-ROM disks, audio-visual materials (e.g. videos, DVDs) and collections of slides and transparencies should always be kept in locked storage. However, it should be kept in mind that greater physical access results in greater use but will result in faster deterioration of the materials. A Centre's goals and objectives must address this conflict and resolve it to the benefit of the users.

4.6 Centre Staff

It will be necessary to analyse the aims and objectives of the organisation (The Mission Statement) and translate these into the purpose, i.e. the services which will be provided internally and externally to customers. The services which the Centre will offer to enable these aims and objectives to be fulfilled will also define what type of staff will be needed and what kind of expertise will be required. The services could be defined as follows:

To be able to achieve good standards in the various services, job tasks must be analysed and written up - thus becoming the basis of the job descriptions. This will help the Manager to decide what type of staff, and with what kind of expertise should be recruited. It is essential that the tasks are then allocated to the appropriate calibre of person to be employed. Alongside the job description it will be necessary to identify the training needs - short term to carry out the main elements of the job; and longer term to fulfil the wider role of the job. An example of a Job Description is in Annex 3.

Effective training should be:

The staff for the efficient running of a Centre may be simply categorized in three groups:

  1. Office personnel - persons who do not necessarily have a degree, but who have had some specialised training or experience in an information service. Usually they perform tasks which support the activities of the information centre but do not require professional knowledge. These tasks include the processing of materials, routine compilation of bibliographic records and security, accounting, circulation and personnel procedures.
  2. Information Officers - staff members who have a degree in information science or occupational safety and health. Knowledge of languages (at least English in addition to the local language) would be advantageous. They are usually allowed more autonomy in the planning and execution of their duties, which include e.g., carrying out detailed bibliographic searches, producing materials and publications, replying to enquiries, preparing abstracts and summaries, and in larger units, supervision of support staff.
  3. Head or Manager of the Information Centre - responsible for the overall direction of the centre and personally responsible for planning, goal setting, preparation and monitoring of the budget, and selection and review of staff. Qualifications should include a degree in either Information Studies or in a technical subject (related to occupational safety and health) and a post graduate diploma in Information Studies. The Head should have wide experience in staff management, budgetary control, and the selection, storage, retrieval and dissemination of technical or scientific information. The ability to train subordinate staff in subjects specific to information work is also necessary. A knowledge of languages (see above) is essential as is the ability to carry out Public Relations activities on behalf of the Centre.

4.7 Training of Information Staff

Once staff have been recruited, they must be trained in the skills and duties necessary for them to make a contribution to the work of the Centre. This applies to staff at all levels, regardless of their previous experience and professional knowledge. In particular they should be given a thorough knowledge of the function of the Centre and the services which it offers. Previous specialist knowledge of the routine work of an information centre e.g. cataloguing, classification, inquiry service, gained elsewhere needs to be supplemented by detailed information about the organisation which they have just joined.

Also the staff must have, or acquire, a detailed knowledge of the subject area. The training can be delivered either through training courses or the provision of adequate documentation, or a combination of both. It should be noted that some of the existing Centres offer training for staff from other, possibly newer Centres.

The Manager will need to devise training programmes for existing and new members of staff, for tasks which they have never carried out before. The Manager will also need to write Job Descriptions.

The Training Programme should have a budget allocated to it. The training courses would need to cater for example:

4.8 Monthly Reports to Management

Once the Plan of Work has been agreed (based on the aims and objectives), the staff and premises established, Centre Manager should give consideration to writing a Monthly Report for Senior Management. This report will give a continuous narrative on the developments of the Centre, and the following paragraph headings could be used to highlight the results of the activities. The report can also be used to emphasise achievements and also any problems which may be emerging.

If possible there should be a regular meeting with the Centre Manager and the Senior Director to discuss the details in the Monthly Reports.

Chapter 5: Networking and Locating Sources of Occupational Safety and Health Information

5.1 Networking

Although the term 'networking' is today associated with computer based networks it can also be defined as:

an interconnected group(s) or system(s)

In the information world networking enhances the basic services by providing quicker routes to the acquisition of a piece of information for a customer. Networking is a very important part of the work of an Information Centre and is an essential feature, if there is commitment to providing a good quality service. The following should be noted.

Extending the Information Centre's own Network

Inside your own organisation

Networking inside the organisation is essential, particularly if the information service is to be at the centre of the organisation (and in particular if the information service is to develop).

Typical networking opportunities arise through membership of various in-house committees which has representatives from other divisions or branches in the organisation. An example would be a computer strategy committee which looks at the future computer requirements, involving, of course, information provision. There are many similar opportunities in an organisation to establish good personal contacts with mutual benefits to both parties.

The information service in an organisation frequently finds, that in addition to its normal function it also has an international information exchange role, thus becomes the hub of the internal network.

The benefits to the information service are enormous, giving them advantages that perhaps no other branch or division may have within the organisation.

Local networks

These networks exist in a variety of forms. They may be formal or informal, meeting face to face, or using email, groups on the Internet, telephone, fax or letter. It can be a network of the local Directors of Library and Information Services who will need to be in close touch discussing items of mutual interest, or trying to solve problems which can be disruptive to the well-being of the locality and services. It is vital that local Directors meet or maintain personal contact. A network can react quickly to problems and smooth the way forward.

These local contacts in the network could be from a variety of organisations. Look in the telephone book, check on the Internet, or ask any of the following:

In your own country

Think of any of the above type of organisation and also do not forget to contact any of the following:

5.2 How to locate OSH information sources within a country

As the collection of the country's internally produced occupational safety and health information grows, one of the prime tasks of a Centre must be to locate and store copies of all such publications.

Government Departments

Ministries usually have their own Documentation or Technical Advisory Services. Occupational safety and health related information will most probably be held within Ministries or Departments with responsibility for health, labour or environmental protection. The international organisations may also have an area office or a representative in the country e.g. national correspondents of the IRPTC programme organised by UNEP which may have a basic information collection.

Commercial and Educational Sources

Some multi-national enterprises and large insurance companies have their own safety or risk management units, with basic information resources. Universities and scientific societies or institutes may already be generating occupational safety and health information.

Trade unions and Employers Associations

National trade union offices and employer organisations are another possible source of OSH information, including training materials and practical guidance notes. Often the trade unions have lists of factory safety representatives, members of safety committees and safety officers.

This information is essential in identifying potential users of OSH information and should definitely be collected by the Centre. Employer organisations have lists of their member companies, who could also be users of OSH information.

Professional Associations

Professional associations such as the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health Practitioners in the UK which are engaged in the publication and dissemination of occupational safety and health information, can be found in most industrialised countries.


The National Centre should establish very close co-operation with the Factories and other Inspectorates, any related safety and health administration units, and the institutions responsible for standards and regulation setting and enforcement. In fact it is advantageous if the information centre operates within an organisation such as one of these. For example, information on accident and inspection reports, statistics of occupational accidents and diseases, hygiene measurements, medical records etc. should be collected. If such information has not previously been collected, then the Centre will be able to assist the authorities in developing methods of collecting, storage and publicising the statistics.

Outside your country

Exchange agreements

The Centre should attempt to establish exchange of information agreements with appropriate organisations in the country in which it is located in order to ensure comprehensive collection and dissemination of OSH materials. It will be most beneficial to the Centre to establish links with other ILO/CIS centres around the world. "Twinning" with an established Centre will be very advantageous because direct help will be available in the format of regular exchange of information, and sometimes training at the host centre can be arranged. An example of a letter requesting information on an exchange basis is in Annex 6.

5.3 International and National Information Sources

The international and national information sources fall into two main groups:

  1. Those sponsored by international organisations, such as the United Nations Environmental Programme and the Commission of the European Union and international private organisations such as trade unions.
  2. National government services all around the world and national private organisations such as professional associations and employers organisations.

Among the specialised agencies of the United Nations, the International Labour Office (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme are the most active in the safety and health field. Their main tasks in this area are to collect, evaluate and disseminate worldwide OSH information and to promote safety and health through international legally binding agreements and standards.

European Union

The European Union also has several information services. The main one for occupational health and safety is the Bilbao based European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health.

This will leads to other European Union sources of occupational safety and health information including the European Chemicals Agency

International Labour Office (ILO)

In addition to the CIS/SAFEWORK, which is the main institution within the ILO dealing with occupational safety and health information, the ILO houses the Occupational Safety and Health Branch which elaborates ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Conventions and Recommendations for ratification by member countries and executes technical co-operation projects in developing countries.

These two activities are supported by the regular preparation and publication of the ILO Codes of Practice and the Occupational Safety and Health Series.


International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)

Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organisations

Rapid access to internationally peer reviewed information on chemicals commonly used throughout the world, which may also occur as contaminants in the environment and food. It consolidates information from a number of intergovernmental organizations whose goal it is to assist in the sound management of chemicals.

This is a joint endeavour of UNEP, the ILO and the WHO. IPCS has a central unit at WHO headquarters which is supported by various committees and a network of national and other leading institutions.

Its main activity is the publication of toxicological, environmental and safety information related to industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical products. The publications, in the form of series, are the Environmental Health Criteria, the Environmental Health Guidelines and International Chemical Safety Cards see

IPCS INCHEM also links to information activities related to Poison Control Centres.

Other international sources are the International Social Security Association (ISSA) in Geneva, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, and a number of international trade union organisations such as the International Federation of Trade Unions of Transport Workers.

International Programme on Chemical Safety - World Health Organisation (WHO)

Through the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), the World Health Organisation (WHO) works to establish the scientific basis for the sound management of chemicals, and to strengthen national capabilities and capacities for chemical safety. See

Chemical safety is achieved by undertaking all activities involving chemicals in such a way as to ensure the safety of human health and the environment. It covers all chemicals, natural and manufactured, and the full range of exposure situations from the natural presence of chemicals in the environment to their extraction or synthesis, industrial production, transport, use and disposal.

United Nations UNEP Chemicals

UNEP Chemicals works to protect humans and the environment from adverse effects caused by chemicals throughout their lifecycle, and hazardous waste. It is the focal point of UNEP activities on chemicals issues and the main catalytic force in the UN system for concerted global action on the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals.

UNEP Chemicals' programme reflects global priorities identified by governments. It works directly with countries to build national capacity for the clean production, use and disposal of chemicals, and promotes and disseminates state-of-the-art information on chemical safety. In response to mandates from UNEP's Governing Council, it facilitates global action, including the development of international policy frameworks, guidelines and programs, to reduce and/or eliminate risks from chemicals. In delivering policy and technical assistance for the sound management of chemicals, UNEP Chemicals builds and strengthens partnerships with governments, organisations like the OECD, and non-governmental organisations. It also works closely with agencies within the UN family, including WHO, FAO, UNIDO, ILO, UNITAR, UNDP and the World Bank, and with the secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions on chemicals and wastes. See

Other Countries

In other countries there are organisations whose activities are centred on research, standard and regulation setting and enforcement and/or documentation including the production of databases.

The U.S. Institute of Occupational Health (NIOSH) is a good example of a research based national organisation. Major NIOSH publications include numerous technical and training manuals, bulletins etc. NIOSH produces and maintains several databases (e.g. NIOSHTICS-2, RTECS). See

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for the preparation and enforcement of OSH laws and regulations in the United Kingdom, and has a database HSELINE. The preparation and enforcement tasks are carried out through inspection, assessment and control of major hazards, certification and approval, training and information provision. HSE publications include investigation reports, standards, guidance notes, training manuals etc.

A typical example of a national organisation concentrated on documentation which has an advisory service and general OSH information dissemination is the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Canada. It maintains a number of databases and has publications aimed at safety and health professionals and workers.

5.4 Library-based information sources

Traditional manual sources, such as the well chosen bookshelf or library are often the quickest, cheapest and most convenient way to find the information needed to reply to a simple request. The basic purpose of a library is to collect books, periodicals, and other documents and make them available for convenient use. There are two types of library information sources: general libraries and specialised libraries.

The traditional library, such as a national, academic or public library is the first place to go if no specialised information service is available. It will always provide the user with indications as to where to find more relevant information. The general libraries are usually divided into different sections. It should be noted that occupational safety and health is an interdisciplinary subject and books and periodicals on many subjects can be of interest: applied technology, sociology, medicine, psychology and law, among many others. General types of information source in a traditional library include:

In a good general purpose library there will always be some specialised information relating to occupational safety and health, but the subject will, of course, be more widely and thoroughly covered in a specialised computer based information services. Specialised libraries do, to a certain extent, have the same handbooks and other reference material as do general libraries. In addition, of course, they have a much more comprehensive collection of specialised material and usually they serve a more specialised body of users. Furthermore, in specialised libraries the user will be assisted by a trained information specialist who will be highly knowledgeable about the field in question. Special libraries are characterized by their adaptation of materials and services to the organisation or clientele they serve. Many special libraries are operated by businesses, industries and research agencies.

A list of basic reference books in the field of occupational safety and health can be found in computerised databases such as CISDOC from the ILO that is also in the electronic collection entitled OSH UPDATE that contains twenty validated and authoritative OSH databases from around the world see which should be found in a well equipped specialised OSH library.

In addition to reference books, a wide range of other materials will be kept. These include specialised indexing publications, current and past issues of OSH periodicals see list

In addition there should also be training materials and practical guides and collections of audiovisual materials (DVDs, videos, slides, e-learning etc.) relating to occupational safety and health can be located.

5.5 Computer based information sources


OSH information seekers should be aware that many of the printed paper versions of research reports, guidance and advice, catalogues, indexes and abstracts to the literature are available on computers throughout the world - via the Internet. It is not now necessary to spend many hours travelling to sources of information, checking manually through periodicals etc, or worse, not being able to access the information at all. (Chapter 6 discusses building the Centre's own database).

Online Services

Commercially available online services have proliferated during the last two decades, making information more easily accessible. Now there are thousands of databases available for information retrieval in the world, covering many subjects references. In addition there are thousands of compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM) sources.

What is a database?

A database is a collection of information held on a computer in machine readable format, often containing many thousands of references, which is made publicly available for online retrieval purposes. Each reference will include title, author(s), keywords/abstracts, bibliographic citation, including publisher. These are known as bibliographic databases e.g. HSELINE, the Health and Safety Executive's database on occupational health and safety information. HSELINE is included in the OSH UPDATE collection of 20 databases see

There are also databases which have the full text of the documents as well as an abstract see also OSH UPDATE which has the full text of a large number of documents. Another type of database comprises primarily numeric data. These are sometimes known as databanks.

A list of databases which provide information on occupational health and safety are listed in Annex 4.

This list is not definitive; other OSH information specialists will no doubt have other sources. It should also be appreciated that lists rapidly become out of date as new sources are constantly becoming available. A word of warning - because many of the databases are extracting from the same source documents, it is inevitable that when searches are carried out on a number of host services there will be duplication of references retrieved.

What is a database host?

A database host is an organisation offering one or more databases / databanks for access by the public. These services are usually available round the clock. Some hosts offer databases on all subjects, some specialize in one subject area and some seek to have 'unique' databases e.g. available only on their own computer system.

A list of suggested hosts, with addresses is given below (see Annex 4).

How do online services work?

Access to online services is usually made from a personal computer - either desk top or increasingly portable computer that link with the telecommunications. All host services will give information on the equipment needed, methods of access and will also train would be searchers. Many public libraries and information brokers will make searches for those who do not have facilities, or do not wish to learn how to search or offer access to enable information seekers search for themselves.

Telephone Links

It is best to have dedicated broadband links but existing office telephone can be used to link into host systems. For very high volumes of online work a permanent link to the nearest data network is advisable. (Contact your National Telecommunication Services for advice).

Access to networks is either by means of a direct line leased from the telecommunications authority, or a short distance call over the public telephone system. "Logging on" and "Logging off" and details of search procedures are usually taught by host system staff at their training courses. Once the user can operate one system, then using other systems becomes progressively easier.

Organisations wishing to access datahost services should consult their national telecommunications or network authority for information. Details of appropriate authorities can usually be obtained from data host services.

Chapter 6: Services to be provided by an Information Centre

6.1 Acquisitions

The acquisitions process covers the procurement of bibliographic materials by purchase, exchange or gift. It includes pre-order searching, ordering and receiving materials, processing invoices for payment, and keeping necessary records. Purchases can be made direct from publishers or producers or through intermediaries, such as subscription agents or book dealers. Acquiring materials can be done individually, piece by piece, or based on a long term acquisitions plan. There are two kinds of material exchanges: direct and duplicate. Direct exchanges occur when an information centre sends specified materials to another centre in exchange for materials of similar value. Duplicate exchanges occur when a centre makes its duplicate, unwanted materials available to other centres in exchange for their duplicates. Direct exchange may be the only way to acquire certain materials, particularly from foreign countries.

To enable the exchanges to take place it will be necessary to inform all government units, organisations, institutions, universities and training colleges of the Centre's intentions. It is essential that any documentation produced by any of the above which relate to occupational safety and health should be collected by the Centre. Gift materials can arrive without request or by an expression of interest by the Centre. Usually they arrive singly or as a mixed batch, but they could also consist of large quantities of materials collected by someone and then donated as a uniform collection (e.g. donations to developing countries via multi- or bi-lateral technical co-operation from industrialised countries.) An agreement between a government and an information centre which results in the centre receiving all or a selection of the government's current publications on a regular basis can be regarded as a type of gift.


Your suppliers are a key ally in keeping you up-to-date with new developments that will keep you one step ahead for your users. Regular contact between your information service and suppliers will provide you with news of what is changing and what is being developed to improve the experience of LIS patrons. Suppliers are usually keen to maintain regular contact; if you have outsourced selection or taken journal consolidation services you will almost certainly have regular review meetings (if not, why not?) where new developments can be discussed and newly identified needs of your users proposed to your supplier for consideration.

Suppliers on the Web

In recent years the Internet has provided a growingly important platform for the development of electronic information services. Suppliers and publishers routinely put information onto the Internet as a viable means of document supply.

Web-based delivery allows suppliers to offer an enhanced range of services rather than simply providing administrative support such as announcement of publication dates and delays. Full text and bibliographic databases that are constantly updated are available from various sources.

Electronic journals

The last ten years have seen a huge growth in the range and number of electronic journals available for use by information services and other subscribers. These services deliver a wide range of journals and allowing users to navigate to and download articles in formats such as Portable Document Format (.pdf). The agent or publisher thus takes care of much of the day-to-day administration, including handling of permissions and access control.

Information professionals can apply their skills to this mass of information and analyse new materials in order to highlight the most relevant items, which they can suggest to users. The information service thus remains in control of the process, and is ready for any follow-up demands (for example, for copies of articles referred to in the electronic documents). Contents listings can be scrutinised in a similar way, perhaps ensuring that copies of articles in themed issues can quickly be sourced, or that articles by key authors in particular subject fields are added to reference bibliographies. Depending on licensing agreements, copies of key items can be downloaded and added to shared folders.

6.2 Organising information

Bibliographic materials must be organised for use by customers who have direct access to the collection and to facilitate the work of information officers. An important part of material organisation is the preparation of bibliographic records which conveniently describe and represent the materials themselves. The records may then be organised and made available for use; the material must be labelled so that it can be stored consistently. Therefore, organisation consists of indexing the information, preparing bibliographic abstracts, arranging them in a catalogue, and placing the materials on shelves or other suitable storage locations, in a predetermined, useful order. These processes are commonly grouped together under the term "cataloguing and classification", but there many variations of these traditional activities. Normally every item which is purchased by the Centre should be recorded, whether held in the Centre or acquired for an individual for long term loan. Recorded means that there is a catalogue entry relating to the item, and it is also classified. The basic functions of the Centre's catalogues are to:

Without a good catalogue, a proportion of the information contained in the Centre's stock will effectively be lost, because no one will be able to find it. Cataloguing involves listing

The catalogue should be created in computerised format i.e. as a database, so the searching may be carried out as efficiently as possible. (See below for details). Documents can be classified in several ways e.g. by the author and according to the subject area. For example, the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) is a scheme which is often used in public and special libraries. It requires that code numbers are assigned to each document which signify the subject contents, e.g. 54 Chemistry. It enables the staff to organise books etc. on shelves in subject order so that users may browse. A UDC number is allocated to each document and may be entered into the database or files with the catalogue entry.

Another example is the classification system based on the ILO Thesaurus which contains 4500 terms which may be used in the indexing and retrieval of information and which covers all aspects of labour information. This system is used in the Library of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health which is also the CIS Centre in Finland. In the facetted CIS Thesaurus the descriptors (index terms) are logically ordered in several groups - the facets. Some examples of the main groups:

For practical purposes, each of these groups has been subdivided to make up the complete systematic faceted list. These groups, and the order in which they are listed, show the logical structure of the subject; each group presupposes the existence of those which precede it and influences the character of those which follow. For evident practical reasons, a more or less elaborate subdivision has been established in each group, which comprise several logically articulated facets.

6.3 Indexes and indexing

What does an index do?

An index will help the information seeker more quickly get hold of a piece of knowledge which is buried in the information service. An index will be found in print or computerised formats.

Where to find an index

An index will be found as follows:

How to make an index

In the simplest terms an index will be made by either manually going through the document, or by using a computer, and picking out all the relevant important words. These are then arranged alphabetically, and have the page number on which they appear written alongside the word.

6.4 Abstracts and abstracting


An abstract usually contains the salient points which can describe an article in a journal, or a document, book, conference paper etc.

There are three types of abstracts:

How to make an abstract

To be able to make a successful abstract the information specialist will need to be able to transfer the details accurately, and be able to understand the document sufficiently well to be able to get the full meaning of the text. If these skills are not available then other expertise may need to be contacted. If a document is not abstracted efficiently then the information user may be mislead the inaccurate abstract.

Where to find an abstract, e.g. as a summary of:

a. Different types of journals.

  1. Indexing type gives bibliographic citations, i.e. title, authors, publisher, journal title, date, volume, part number, pages, plus index terms only.

  2. Abstracting type gives bibliographic citations, i.e. title, authors, publisher, journal title, date, volume, part number, pages, plus an abstract giving all the relevant details about the book, report, journal article, standard, etc. Will also list number of references.

b. Databases: usually contain abstracts to documents, if not an extensive list of keywords may be substituted.

6.5 How to build up a national database

In order to gather, process and disseminate national occupational safety and health information, several applications of databases could be utilized. A computer equipped with appropriate database management software.

National databases could be built up covering the following subject areas:

The database management system allows the user to print partial or full catalogues and/or indexes, retrieve records by their contents, display the records or portions thereof according to the users' requirements, sort records into any sequence etc.

6.6 Enquiry Services

People concerned with or responsible for safety and health in places of work are often confronted with problems which cannot be solved without further information. To recognize, evaluate and control workplace hazards is to deal in the language of science. Employers and employees are usually unaware of basic information sources in occupational safety and health. An information centre is the contact point to find detailed information on specific subjects. There are two types of enquiry - one is for a specific document and the other is for information on a specific topic.

A Centre will need to decide what kind of "extended services" they wish to offer the customers both inside the organisation and externally. These may cover a wide range from delivering free leaflets, to a full technical enquiry service, where enquiries by letters / fax / telephone or by personal visits are encouraged. Giving talks, or offering training courses may also be part of these extended services. See Chapter 7 for details of promotion of the National Centre.

Document delivery

In order to manage the loan of documents, the Centre should have a set of standard forms (e.g. loan request form, request form for journals, inter-library loans request form, date due cards etc.) usually on paper but a database may be used for this purpose. In the developing countries the loan service is not very common.

Subject enquiries

To answer questions consistently about a subject as complex as occupational safety and health, it is essential to have a strategy. This task may be simplified by dividing it into the following three stages:

Clarifying the question essentially means focusing on the underlying purpose of the question. Identification of the exact question and attention to accuracy will help to ensure that you provide what is required. Most importantly, it should avoid any misadventure which might occur from the use of incorrect information.

Contacts and sources

When reviewing sources and methods for retrieval of occupational safety and health information, similar general considerations apply as for many other types of information retrieval. In particular, it is important NOT to restrict oneself to computer based information, and so neglect the more traditional manual sources. Often, urgently needed simple information should be searched manually, rather than from bibliographic databases or databanks, which may give much unwanted material as well the specific items required. It should be considered how much full text or factual information is needed, or can the question be answered from bibliographic sources with indications to where further information is to be found. The most common sources of occupational safety and health information were reviewed in Chapter 5.

After gathering details and information on a specific subject or problem, you will then have to give an answer to the enquirer. If the problem was urgent, you could use the telephone or facsimile (fax). Usually the information is sent by mail with a covering letter explaining how the information was collected. Whichever method you use, ensure that it is understandable, well organised and well presented, so that it will reflect the high standard of work and effort which you put into investigating the enquiry.

6.7 Reference collection

In addition to the enquiry service, the services in a Centre should include whatever is necessary to meet users' needs: for example, organising open reference collections for self service; providing quick information face-to-face or by telephone; gathering files of information for special groups on specific topics; preparing abstracts and literature summaries. Also instruction sessions could be developed to help users become more effective and efficient in the use of the resources. Instruction focuses on developing users' skills in the independent use and search of the available information resources.

6.8 Dissemination of information internally

Two of the key elements in improving working conditions and safety at the workplace are adequate information on the inherent hazards and safe practices relevant to the workplace and effective means of disseminating this information to the workforce and to those persons responsible for their safety and health. Dissemination of information may be effected either by supplying the workers with the information they need or giving them the opportunity to gain access to it. A Centre, in addition to the collection and storage of materials, should disseminate information to external organisations and individuals as well as to the staff of the parent organisation in which the centre is based.

Internal dissemination can be taken care of by circulation of certain materials. Some categories of material, such as reference collections, are usually restricted to in-house use because they are in continual demand, and rare items because of their value. Usually magazines / periodicals / journals, information notes and similar materials can be circulated, provided that an accurate record is kept of what is circulating, to whom, and how long each person on the circulation list may retain the material.

6.9 Dissemination of information externally

The information collected by the Centre should also be disseminated to outside organisations and individuals according to their needs. Often the collected materials exist in languages other than those spoken locally, and thus a language barrier prevents the effective use of the material where it most needed - the workplace. One of the main tasks of an information centre is therefore the adaptation of materials to local conditions (i.e. translation into languages understandable to the intended users.) Details are given in Chapter 7 of various simple means of disseminating information.

Chapter 7: Promotion of a Centre

In order to establish the Centre as a resource within a country it is necessary to promote the various activities in which it will be involved and the services and benefits which it can provide. This may be done in various ways, some of which are virtually cost free and others which involve some expense, and will need help from other experts. The following headings are expanded below.

  1. advertising
  2. promotion through press releases, RSS feeds
  3. writing articles/information notes for the trade and technical press
  4. organising visits to the Centre for interested parties
  5. participating in seminars / conferences / exhibitions
  6. publications, including information sheets/leaflets - free and priced
  7. publicity package
  8. creating a union list of OSH journals
  9. create the Centre website, and possibly a Newsletter, blogs, and other social media outlets
  10. organising information seminars to make individuals and representatives from public and private organisations aware of the worldwide availability of occupational health and safety information

These are discussed in detail below.

7.1 Advertising

Advertising in other journals

In the Centre's plan of work it may be necessary to have part of the budget funds allocated to advertising costs if free publicity is not an option. The placing of advertisements cost effectively is discussed below. Use should be made of journals produced in the country in which the Centre is promoting itself, selecting a size (quarter page, half page etc.) which will have the necessary impact in comparison to other advertisements, but within budgetary limits. Charges and copy dates are obtainable from the Advertising Manager of each publication. If a multi publication campaign is envisaged, an advertising agency may be able to save time and money.

Advertising in own publications

Every publication from the Centre should include

7.2 Promotion through Press Releases

a) Aims and objectives

The Centre should aim constantly to be in the public eye by continuous promotion of its role and services. Press releases may be issued on a number of activities. The editors of trade and technical publications are always anxious to have up to date news on new developments, e.g.

Consideration should also be given to offer from the Centre's website the opportunity for a RSS feed - which is short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. This handy service is revolutionising the way people search for content. In addition, web searchers do not necessarily have to keep checking back to any particular site to see if it has been updated - all that is necessary is subscribe to the RSS feed, and then read the updates from the site, delivered via RSS feeds, in what' is called a "feed reader." RSS feeds benefit those who actually own or publish a website as well, since site owners can get their updated content to subscribers fast by submitting feeds to various XML and RSS directories. For example see the CIS Newsletter home page

b) What goes into a press release?

Each press release must contain:

The main body of the text must be written succinctly and contain the main points of the message as this will be quoted exactly in the journals etc. This information is usually contained in one or two pages. If there are a number of pages, e.g. statistics, then these can be added as an annex.

The press release is aimed at editors/media as well as the general public, and it may be necessary to have a separate part "Notes for Editors" which may give additional background information.

Any initials or acronyms used in the press release should be spelt out in detail - particularly for editors of journals/media who may wish to expand on the details given.

c) Who should receive press releases?

As suggested above, editors of journals, newspapers, newsletters should all receive copies of press releases. It would be useful to compile a list of editors with their names, telephone and fax numbers, so that labels for envelopes can easily be made. The press releases then can be sent out efficiently. Also, editors at news desks for radio and TV should also be sent press releases. Specialist journals etc may wish to receive press releases only on their specialist subjects, and arrangements should be made for them.

Another way of earning revenue would be to make the press releases available on an annual subscription charges to OSH practitioners, consultants and others interested in receiving up-to-date information.

A sample press release is at Annex 5. Other established Centres should be contacted for examples of their press releases.

7.3 Writing Articles

Editors of journals are most anxious to receive articles describing Centre activities, publications and services. It is suggested that every Centre should "cultivate" editors who may provide opportunities for free publicity. Examples of articles published are listed below:

    Journal of Occupational Accidents. Feb 1986, vol. 7, no. 4, 285-289.
    Health and Safety at Work. Jan 1986, vol. 8, no. 1, 40-43.

7.4 Organising visits to the Centre

It can be announced that the Centre will host visits for the purpose of making the health and safety information seeker, both internally within the organisation and externally, aware of the range of information produced and stored at the Centre. Interested groups may include inspectors and other specialists, students, trainee nurses, associations of Safety Officers, Trade Union representatives and many others. (See below for details of organising seminars/training courses).

7.5 Participating in Conferences / Seminars / Exhibitions

One of the well known ways of making individuals and organisations aware of the existence of the Centre is for the Head of the Centre to be available as a public speaker. This may entail attending a course on public speaking, which will show how to prepare and deliver a talk, organise notes, operate a slide projector and an overhead projector as well as answering questions from the audience. There are some films and videos on public speaking. There is an extensive range of seminar themes with which occupational health and safety may be associated and Centre contributions are always welcomed. Many conferences are run in parallel with an exhibition. Every opportunity should be taken to utilise exhibitions to advertise the Centre services including those of ILO/CIS. Note that CIS Geneva will be able to provide booklists, bibliographies and advertising material.

Training should be given in presenting the services of the CIS Centre using a PowerPoint Presentation. This will be updated as new services are introduced. Once produced it is cost-effective to maintain and update. Example can be found at

7.6 Publications

Free leaflets

The Centre information staff will discover that as the range of services develops there will be opportunities to produce leaflets on a range of subjects for issue free of charge to information seekers. e.g.

Leaflet describing the work of the Centre

The leaflet can be typed or printed as a glossy brochure. Putting the leaflet on the Centre's website is cost and time saving that could be significant compared with print runs.

Discuss the number of copies to be printed, remembering that it is usually cheaper to have longer print-runs made in an order than having to have shorter, repeat orders. Typically, the brochure will give:

Consider the following also when writing/compiling the brochure:

Leaflets describing specific work related problems

These are typically small leaflets, perhaps four to six pages in length, although they can be on one side of an A4 sheet. Aimed at giving the main points on a subject, they are usually written by experts to inform the users about legislation requirements, and give technical, chemical and medical advice. These sheets carry important and practical information on a particular subject e.g. a chemical substance or the safe use of a chain saw. Information sheets are produced by many institutes and organisations throughout the world.

To facilitate access to important information on occupational safety and health in developing countries in particular, and to contribute to national activities in promoting the use of information notes aimed at improving the protection of workers in general, the ILO/CIS publishes information sheets on specific subjects of wide interest, based on suggestions and inputs from the Centres. These information notes describe occupational hazards and their prevention in an easily understandable form and can serve as a practical tool in the improvement in working practices and conditions. Of course, these information sheets have to be adapted to local conditions and translated into local languages.

It is recommended that Centres start producing information sheets as early as possible as they are a proven, cost-effective way of improving the dissemination of practical safety and health information within a country, and also function as an advertisement. Remember also to put these leaflets on the centre's website.

NB. Many Centres have a wide range of free leaflets which have been produced by specialists. In general these may be copied free of charge and adapted to suit the needs of Centres in other countries.

In particular, e.g. the Centres of the UK, Canada Australia see under publications, and USA will willingly send packs of their own leaflets to any other Centre, but for up-to-dateness see these centres' websites for the latest leaflets.


Priced publications

Many Centre institutes/organisations produce publications which are for sale in their own country but increasingly free of charge on the websites. It may be possible, through negotiation, to obtain permission to copy and adapt some of these documents free of charge, or at a reduced price, for use in another country. Ask the other Centres for a list of their publications, or carry out a search on HSELINE, UK HSE Centre database, CISDOC database, NIOSHTICS-2, the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health database, or on the collection of 20 databases that are in the electronic collection OSH UPDATE - which some Centres are already using. e.g. HSE and IOSH in the UK, Prevent in Belgium, FIOH in Finland, CIS Geneva, NIOSH in the USA, TNO in The Netherlands, and centres such as Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

7.7 Publicity package

The current ILO/CIS folder with examples of the Bulletin, list of Centres, and the small leaflet could be used which would be a useful first stage promotional leaflet. The next step would be to produce a brochure for the Centre. The brochure would give the name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and also state the aims and objectives, the services, publications and opening times, as follows:

These brochures can be given out on a number of occasions:

They can also be put on display to enable visitors to the centre or others in the parent organisations to take them away with them.

7.8 Union List of Journals

The Centre may wish to consider creating a union list of OSH journals which are held in libraries and information services in colleges, universities and in other organisations in the country. Knowledge of the locations of the OSH journals will help the OSH information seeker to quickly access up-to-date information.

Steps to be taken by the Centre in compiling a union list:

  1. First make a list of OSH journals which are held or currently taken within the Centre. The titles should be those quoted on the cover of the journal. Some journal titles are artistically arranged, so one rule is to read, if the title is in English, from the top left hand corner of the cover page and write the title as it laid out.

  2. Add the first dates of the journal issues held in the centre

    Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health 1987 -

  3. Put the list into alphabetical order of titles, ignoring "a", "an", "the", "la", "Le" etc.

  4. Once the list is complete send it with a letter to other organisations asking if they would be willing to add their OSH titles to the list, and also if other individuals and organisations outside of their own could request photocopies of articles or even visit that organisation to carry out research using their journals.

  5. If these organisations are willing to cooperate, then the name of the contact person and organisation, telephone and fax numbers will need to be added to the union list.

  6. Each of these organisations will be assigned a code, and their code number and holding dates of the journal title will be added to the list, e.g.

    Union List of OSH Journals

    Safety and Health at Work


    1987 -



    1989 -

    List of organisations


    CIS Centre
    123 Main Street, Summertown
    Tel: 1234 567
    Fax: 1234 568
    Contact: Miss J Smith


    Xavier University
    Main Library
    University Road, Summertown
    Tel: 1234 666
    Fax: 1234 667
    Contact: Enquiry Desk

    The third part of the union list could be the names of the organisations appearing in alphabetical order e.g.

    Name of organisation

    Code number of organisation

    CIS Centre
    123 Main Street
    Tel: 1234 567
    Fax: 1234 568
    Contact: Miss J Smith


    Xavier University
    Main Library
    University Road
    Tel: 1234 666
    Fax: 1234 667
    Contact: Enquiry Desk


    The fourth part of a union list could be a subject index to the titles in the first part of the list. Each title needs to be classified from its contents. A simple, standard list of subject headings is suggested. This will help avoid duplication.

    Write to established Centres, such as the Health and Safety Executive Information Services, Sheffield, UK for a copy of their subject listing for journals.


    Building and Construction
    Construction Industry International
    Safety and Health at Work: ILO-CIS Bulletin
    Site Safe News

    Occupational Health
    African Newsletter
    ARLAC Newsletter
    CIS Newsletter

  7. The union list can be quite small in the beginning - containing perhaps only 20 or 30 titles for the country, but in time it will grow as the CIS Centre and others include new titles. Some organisations may also wish to include CD-ROM titles held on the Union List.

  8. The list should be kept up-to-date. Either issue a new edition annually or send out a supplementary update sheet with additions / deletions. The list can be kept on a computer or can be typed. It should have a cover giving the name of the centre, address, telephone and fax number.

  9. Copies can be distributed to all participating organisations and also to other organisations or individuals who would then be encouraged to use the National Centre.

  10. A press release can be issued when the idea is launched to get organisations interested and certainly when the list is completed, or subsequently updated.

7.9 Create the Centre website, blog etc and a Newsletter


The Centre should endeavour to produce, maintain and constantly update the local website. A range of full text publications can be added, plus a diary of events, locally and nationally, news, links to other OSH organisations in the Centre's country and links elsewhere in the world.

See for links to hundreds of validated and authoritative OSH web sites.

As the Centre advances consideration could be given to putting the Centre's information on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and using other social media. Examples:

The Centre Newsletter

The Centre's own Newsletter should be the premier vehicle for the dissemination of information. It could contain the news and activities of the Centre, promotion of the services which it provides, introduction of training opportunities, and technical information relating to occupational safety and health, training events and new legislation and reports. It should be published regularly in the local language and distributed as widely as possible nationally. Production by the personal computer and photocopier is not difficult for those that wish to receive it in printed format. It should, of course be published on the Centre's website and an archive of past editions kept there also.

Example - see US NIOSH E-News

7.10 Organising Seminars and Training Courses

It is acknowledged that training can be used as an agent of change in encouraging improvements in the management of occupational safety and health (OSH).

Training can be aimed at all levels:

There are various ways in which occupational health and safety training can be given e.g. via:

Once a Centre is established there may be opportunities to organise seminars designed to demonstrate the range of areas in which the Centre is active.

This may require the participation of specialists from all sections of the Centre, such as occupational hygienist, noise specialist, in addition to contributions from information specialists. If this is not practical then the theme of occupational health and safety covers more than enough topics to justify a seminar on its own. The organising of a seminar or conference requires the input of much time and effort, but the benefits in terms of promotion of the activities of the Centre and information available in and via the Centre are sufficient reward. The following pages give some steps to be taken when organising seminars and training courses.

It should be remembered that it takes time to organise and promote adequately the seminars and training courses. Consequently planning needs to take place many months ahead. It is useful to plan a whole year's activities in advance and publish a Diary of Events so that potential audiences have advanced notice of the various seminars and training courses.

7.10.1 The effects of seminars and training courses

In a normal teaching situation, students retain


7.10.2 Proposals for OSH Information Awareness Training Courses for non specialists

Annex 7 lists some suggestions for outline programmes for various categories of potential occupational safety and health (OSH) information users. Each course has opportunities for question and answer sessions. The course contents could cover the following topics:

  1. Management responsibilities including legislation
  2. Risk assessment
  3. OSH information and how to access it
  4. Keeping up to date
  5. Demonstration of computerised systems
  6. Defining the OSH workplace problems
  7. Fact finding and establishing a methodology for enquiries
  8. Finding information in a wide variety of sources - journals, reports, legislation etc

Generally these ideas for training courses give an outline which can be adapted by the user to suit their own situation / industry / location.

7.10.3 How to organise seminars/training courses

The following steps are discussed in detail in Annex 8:

7.10.4 Steps to take during the preparation for conference/training course

Organisers may need to appoint a Course Director when a course or training seminar is to be held. Annex 8 gives details of the steps to be taken to ensure a successful event.

7.11 Training by the use of videos / DVDs and e-learning

There is no denying that a well made safety video can successfully inform, educate and sometimes shock an audience into positive action. Videos are also quick, convenient and cost-effective to use. But even the best safety videos / DVDs / e-learning cannot do the job alone. They need to be presented in the right environment, to the right amount of people and in the right way if the message is to be driven home properly. Annex 9 gives details of organising such training.

7.12 Public Speaking

It is not necessary to be a gifted orator in order to give an effective talk to either a small informal group, or a large public gathering. The principal requirements are a sound knowledge of the subject, self confidence and some practical experience of the technique of public speaking. A number of texts exist on the subject, but the following points may help.

  1. Speakers' appearance, voice, dress and mannerisms will be the focal point for the audience. Audiences react to appearance and their reactions can condition their minds to accept or reject the talk before the speaker even starts.
  2. State:
    • subject(s) to be covered.
    • main points to be covered.
    • cover all points.
    • conclude with summary of main points.
  3. Use visual aids correctly:
    • do not talk to screen.
    • talk to the audience.
  4. Handouts - give out after the talk but tell the audience they will get handouts.
  5. Questions - decide if questions will be answered during or at the end of the talk, and tell the audience at the beginning of the talk.
  6. Demonstrations/videos
    • state when these will be given.
    • have competent demonstrator.


ANNEX 1: Information to be provided by potential CIS Centres

The following information will be needed by CIS Headquarters to support the application being made to be a CIS Centre:

  1. Name of Organisation
  2. Full address and contact details including telephone, e-mail and web site
  3. Full name(s) of person(s) making the application including telephone and e-mail:
    • Director of the organisation
    • Head of Department where the Centre will be located
    • Person who will be carrying out CIS duties
  4. Training that will be offered from the Centre
  5. Communication facilities e.g. web site, newsletters etc
  6. Any Training required by the proposed Centre
  7. Facilities offered by the proposed centre e.g. accommodation for centre; computer equipment, current information held
  8. Any current courses being offered in occupational safety and health (OSH)
  9. Any current OSH publications produced by the organisation

ANNEX 2: Expected Services response time by a typical Information Centre

As part of your service quality programme you should have some standards of service and response times that will help both Information Services' staff and users to know what is expected. For example you could adopt guidelines such as the following:


Expected Response Time

1. Loans request

  1. 3 days turnaround for 80% of requests
  2. remainder 20% longer time - user to be informed

2. Photocopies

  1. 2 days turnaround for 80% of requests
  2. remainder 20% longer time

3. Loans / document supply from external source

  1. urgent action within 24 hours - 10%
  2. 10-15 days turnaround for 80%
  3. in excess of 20 days remainder 10%

4. Extensive literature search

  1. 1-10 days turnaround for 80%
  2. 11-20 days for 10%
  3. remainder 10% longer time - depends on the nature of the enquiry

5. Translations

  1. Urgent - within 48 hours 10%
  2. Normal - negotiable between panels of linguists and your own staff turnaround for 90% of requests

6. Orders for new item of stock

  1. up to 8 weeks 70% of requests
  2. 8 weeks and over if from other parts of the world
  3. Exceptions e.g. British Standards within 36 hours

7. Entry into database of new stock item

  1. Up to 10 working days - 70%
  2. Over ten working days - 30%

8. Telephone or emails answering

  1. Same day if no research is needed; if not above applies

ANNEX 3: Setting up a Centre

This annex describes in detail three steps that could be followed in setting up of information services in a developing country.



Basic set (20-50) of books, periodicals, information sheets, guides and training materials.


Photocopier with supplies


Telecommunications including access to the Internet and Broadband

Audiovisual/DVD equipment


Appropriate software

  1. Safety specialist with basic knowledge of information science.

  2. A typical job description for an Information Assistant (Office Personnel) could be written on the following lines:

    Title: Information Assistant

    Hours of Works: (State hours per week and per day)

    Responsible to: (Give title of immediate supervisor)


    1. Responsible for providing photocopy service, loans of documents both from the Centre stock and external sources.
    2. Checking return of stock item from loan and filing stock on shelves.
    3. Check the catalogues and reference stock to answer quick reference enquiries.
    4. Responsible for receipt and circulation of journals to in-house staff.
    5. Any other duties which may reasonably be required.

    Please note that the Forward Job Plan will state the training to be carried out during the year.



(Basic service as above in STEP I)


A small reference library of 100-200 books and a small back up library of 500-5,000 books, periodicals, regulations, training materials.

BOOKS: Books in Annex 3. marked with (**)

PERIODICALS: Periodicals in Annex 3. marked with (**)





Audiovisual equipment


Latest software e.g. Microsoft Office 2010 or similar plus database management programme for the organisation of the library and information collections


At least two trained specialists (information and training) and one non-professional assistant for routine office work.


Air-conditioned room.


(Basic and intermediate services as above in Steps I and II)


Relatively small reference library, maximum 1,000 volumes and 10-20 periodicals received and large collection of training materials.

The most important chemical data sheets, technical data sheets, laws regulations and directives.



ANNEX 4: List of OSH Host Services and CD-ROM Producers

Please note that there are some OSH and related subject databases available via online services and CD-ROMs. It is advisable to check with the Information Producers for the latest situation as the scene is constantly and rapidly changing. There are other specialist databases for further advice contact the author Sheila Pantry, email:

The following will be of help to Centres. Free of charge trials are available for those databases and collections that are on subscription. Contact the host services.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health (CCOHS)

Wide range of OSH information in a number of products: MSDS; CHEMINFO; CHEMpendium™; RTECS®; OSH References contains HSELINE, OSHLINE; CISILO; NIOSHTIC; NIOSHTIC-2; PubMed Subset; and Canadiana.

Chemical Abstracts Services, USA

Extremely wide ranging - all aspects of biochemistry chemistry, chemical engineering and toxicology.

Health and Safety Executive Information Services, Sheffield, UK

HSELINE - Worldwide, all aspects of health and safety in science, technology, engineering, industrial processes, mining, nuclear engineering and technology, explosives, agriculture, railway, transportation, offshore oil industry, occupational hygiene and medicine, including research. Available in;;

International Labour Office, Health and Safety Centre, Geneva, Switzerland

CISDOC embraces occupational hygiene, medicine, physiology, industrial toxicology, accident prevention, safety engineering. Includes legislation. Also appear in a collections such as the CCOHS collection OSH References and in Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd collections of full text and bibliographic database OSH UPDATE

National Cancer Institute, USA

PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine, provides access to over 12 million MEDLINE literature citations dating back to the mid-1960s.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, USA

The NIOSH Web site features many different types of databases and information collections. The most popular databases include the International Chemical Safety Cards, NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, RTECS (see and NIOSHTIC-2.

NIOSHTIC-2 and the original NIOSHTIC also appear in a collections such as the CCOHS collection OSH References and in Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd collections of full text and bibliographic databases OSH UPDATE and FIREINF

National Library of Medicine, USA

MEDLINE® contains journal citations and abstracts for biomedical literature from around the world. PubMed® provides free access to MEDLINE and links to full text articles when possible.

Also hosts Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) - TOXNET - Comprehensive, peer-reviewed toxicology data for about 5,000 chemicals see

Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


OSH UPDATE is a major collection of 20 occupational safety and health databases from worldwide authoritative organisations including CISDOC, NIOSHTIC, NIOSHTIC-2, HSELINE, CCOHS, British Standards. Constantly updated with over 820,000 records containing over 66,000 full text documents.


17 databases from worldwide authoritative organisations. Constantly updated with over 536,000 records containing over 36,000 full text documents.

ANNEX 5: Example of a Press Release

HSE PRESS Release - Date 28 June 2011

New figures published of fatally injured agriculture workers

New official statistics published today show the number of workers killed in the agriculture industry last year has slightly decreased.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011, which shows the number of workers killed was 34 - a decrease on the previous year when 39 died.

Sandy Blair, HSE's Board Member for agriculture, said: "The number of workers killed each year in the agricultural industry remains stubbornly consistent. "We must not lose sight of the fact 34 workers failed to come home safe. This slight decrease is obviously welcome and should give some encouragement to the industry to keep seeking improvement: a step in the right direction but one that will only continue to save lives if the effort is maintained

"Agriculture is as much a community as it is an industry, which makes these deaths all the more devastating. Across the agricultural community we are seeing an increasing ownership of the health and safety agenda, a genuine attempt to work towards removing the label of being one of the most dangerous ways to earn a living in Britain. There is certainly more to do and we have good reason to believe only continued effort across the industry will improve safety."

The rate of fatal injury in the agricultural sector has fallen to 8.0 per 100,000 workers. The change takes into account the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures, which show an increase in the working population, as well as the fall in the number of deaths.

The average rate for the last five years has been 9.6 per 100,000.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Further information on workplace statistics can be found at
  3. Further information on health and safety in agriculture can be found at
  4. The rate of fatal injury for 2009/10 was 10.4 per 100, 000 workers
  5. In each of the last five years, the number of fatal injuries has been:
    • 2009/10 - 39 workers died - finalised figures
    • 2008/09 - 25 workers died
    • 2007/08 - 46 workers died
    • 2006/07 - 33 workers died
    • 2005/06 - 33 workers died
  6. The reporting of health and safety incidents at work is a statutory requirement, set out under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). A reportable incident includes: a death or major injury; any accident which does not result in major injury, but the injured person still has to take three or more days off their normal work to recover; a work related disease; a member of the public being injured as a result of work related activity and taken to hospital for treatment; or a dangerous occurrence, which does not result in a serious injury, but could have done.
  7. The figures for 2010/11 are provisional. They will be finalised in June 2012 following any necessary adjustments arising from investigations, in which new facts can emerge about whether the accident was work-related. The delay of a year in finalising the figures allows for such matters to be fully resolved in the light of formal interviews with all relevant witnesses, forensic investigation and coroners' rulings.
  8. This year is the first year HSE has adopted the revised SIC 2007 classification codes More information is available on HSE Website

Press enquiries

HSE Press Office Helen Duggan, Tel: 0151 951 4589
Out of Hours: 0151 922 1221

ANNEX 6: Sample of a Letter Requesting an Exchange Agreement with a Centre in another Country

Dear Sir/Madam


This organisation is the International Labour Office Centre for occupational safety, health and environment information in this country. We are developing the Centre and aim to make it the main information centre in these subjects, to enable others to easily obtain authoritative and validated data concerning the workplace.

We would be most grateful if you will agree to set up a reciprocal exchange agreement with this Centre. Any information we produce we will send to you as soon as it is published.

We look forward to your reply. If for any reason you cannot enter into such an agreement, please could you suggest other sources in your country.

Yours faithfully

ANNEX 7: Outline Programme for Training Various Categories of Potential OSH Information Users

The following outline programmes are given for various categories of potential occupational safety and health (OSH) information users.

Each course should give opportunities for question and answer session.

The course contents could cover the following topics:

  1. Management responsibilities / Directives / legislation
  2. Risk assessment
  3. OSH information and how to access it
  4. Keeping up to date
  5. Demonstration of computerised systems
  6. Defining the OSH workplace problem
  7. Fact finding and establishing a methodology
  8. Finding information in a wide variety of sources - journals, reports, legislation etc

1. Who For: Managers

Duration: 45 - 60 minutes

Covers: A, B, C, D, E.

2. Who For: Supervisors

Duration: 1 - 2 hours

Covers: A, B, C, D, E

3. Who for: Safety Representative/Union member

Duration: 3 - 6 hours depends on needs of group

Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

Feedback session: Each delegate states his/her problem and what they have found. This is then discussed in the group.

4. Who For: Occupational health doctors/nurses

Duration: 1 - 3 hours

Covers: A, B, C, D, E

5. Who For: Small businesses

Duration: 1- 3 hours

Covers: A, B, C, D, E

6. Who For: OSH Practitioner

Duration: 1/2 - 1 day depends if practical sessions are needed e.g. use of CD-ROMs

Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

7. Who For: University students

Duration: any time from 1 hour to 1 day or more, depends on requirements

Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

8. Who For: Head Teachers/Governors

Duration: 1 day, depends on requirements

Covers: A, B, C, D, E

9. Who For: Teachers, particularly those with responsibilities for workshops domestic courses involving kitchens, and those working in laboratories

Duration: 1 day

Covers: A, B, C, D, E

These could include an inspector giving a talk, then a medical doctor. Various videos can also be shown.

The courses 8 and 9 can be run on one day, back to back, this means that everyone's time is cost effectively used.

10. Who For: Information specialists

Duration: anything from 1 hour to 5 days, to 10 days or longer e.g. 8 weeks

Covers: The whole range of available information from worldwide sources and systems. Can be for anyone new to OSH information but with an information qualification e.g. University Degree to someone newly starting without any qualifications.


Generally these training courses give a methodology which can be adapted by the user to suit their own situation / industry / location.

ANNEX 8: How to Organise Seminars / Training Courses

There are a number of steps which need to be followed to ensure a successful seminar/training course. The following should help:

  1. Identify the target audience, e.g.
    • trade union occupational health and safety representatives,
    • occupational health nurses,
    • information specialists from industry and commerce etc., and
    • occupational health and safety practitioners.
  2. Decide on the subject/topic. This could be to introduce a new piece of legislation, or some topical subject e.g. manual handling.
  3. Decide on the date of the event and location. Book an available room where the meeting can take place. It is important to ensure that there is as little outside interference e.g. telephones, as possible. Seating should be arranged in either cinema or conference layout to suit the size of the audience, the style of the speakers and the physical limitations of the room. Organise video machine, film projector, overhead projector and any other equipment which may be needed by the speakers.
  4. Organise speakers, ensure that they know their subject well and can give deliver publicly a talk to an audience. Brief them on what you require them to do/say/write, and if necessary meet them to discuss details. Keep in touch with the speakers, especially if the conference has been arranged for some time ahead of the event.
  5. Organise the publicity - see above re press releases etc. Announce the seminar at least two months in advance by sending letters (direct mailshot) to individuals, organisations, libraries/information centres, trade unions etc, stating the objectives, the subjects to be covered, the speakers, the overall duration and the price. If there are to be demonstrations of online sources, CD-ROMS, films, videos or other opportunities for access to information sources then this should be mentioned.
  6. Ensure also that there are adequate supplies of information packs and other handouts. Successful seminars will "self promote" themselves; there will be requests for the same or similar programmes to be mounted in other locations. NB. Ensure that there are ILO/CIS packs available at all seminars/training courses.
  7. Send out advert with details of course/seminar giving details of venue, date, time, speakers, description of course to all potential delegates, strict instructions for payment of any fees to the Organiser and cut-off date for last application.

Once the publicity is on the way, the following steps need to be taken to ensure that the conference/training course is well planned.

Steps to take during the preparation for conference/training course

  1. Delegates

    Organisers may need to appoint a Course Director who will need details of where and when the course/conference is to be held, anyone else involved in the preparation, and list of delegates. The Course/Conference Director may be responsible for all the detailed work involved in the meeting.

    Organisers will need to start to make a list of names of delegates, and send letters back to them accepting the fee and confirming a place on the course or at the conference.

  2. Organisation of handouts, etc

    Have extra copies of handouts and programme run off for the course/conference and put on table at reception or handed out when delegates are seated.

    Have list of names on "sticky labels" typed/written out.

  3. Training Room(s)

    Beforehand discuss with speakers/tutors if they need:

    • computer connected to projector,
    • video / DVD machine(s),
    • handouts,
    • flipcharts and paper,
    • copies of any publications for Reference

    Also organise:

    • chairs,
    • tables,
    • drinking water for speakers/chairperson,
  4. Reception

    Ensure that a list of names of delegates is sent to Receptionists at the venue, in advance, and include speakers on the list.

  5. Refreshments

    Order as appropriate and include speakers/tutors and any other person involved.

  6. Two weeks before event

    • check speakers are still available,
    • check room is still available,
    • check if equipment needed is still available,
    • check if delegates' information pack is ready. Should include:
      • programme for the day, (with any changes to advertised programme).
      • list of delegates,
      • evaluation form - this is a useful way of finding out how successful the event was from the delegates point of view,
      • name badge or sticky label,
      • any other publicity information.
  7. One week before the event

    Check everything is OK.

  8. On the day

    • get to venue at least one hour before start - check equipment,
    • greet speakers on arrival,
    • ensure reception staff know what to do,
    • ensure each delegate has an information pack,
    • introduce conference programme/training course to delegates and give details of domestic instructions,
    • introduce speakers to chairman/course director (see also 9 below)
  9. Order of the day

    • introduce speakers to each other at registration,
    • housekeeping information,
      • location of fire exit,
      • location of toilets,
      • location where refreshments e.g. coffee breaks are to be held,
      • security arrangements
  10. Outline of the day: The Chairman/Course Director will introduce the Programme, stating:

    • aims and objectives of the day,
    • details of each session and how the conference/training course will be conducted,
    • handouts in pack,
    • get each delegate to introduce themselves (if appropriate), and
    • ask delegates to fill in evaluation form.
  11. After the event

    • write to thank speakers - send any payment due,
    • check evaluation forms and note any comments for next event, and
    • thank any others involved.

ANNEX 9: Training by the use of videos / DVDs / E-Learning

There is no denying that a well made safety video/DVD can successfully inform, educate and sometimes shock an audience into positive action. Videos/DVDs are also quick, convenient and cost-effective to use. But even the best safety videos cannot do the job alone. They need to be presented in the right environment, to the right amount of people and in the right way if the message is to be driven home properly.

  1. Group size

    The ideal group size for a video/DVD presentation is 10-15 people. Smaller groups may be difficult to motivate. Larger groups may be difficult to control.

  2. Room and group setting

    Group seating positions are important to ensure a clear, unobstructed view of the visual aids (monitor, screen, flipchart, blackboard etc.) and the trainer at all times. The ideal room layout is a 'U' shape. This will facilitate group participation and group/trainer interaction.

  3. Group participation

    People, in general, like sharing their experiences and it is important to use this to encourage group participation throughout. Following the video presentation, you may feel it beneficial to divide the audience into smaller 'discussion groups' of 3 or 4 people. If possible try to ensure that these groups contain a 'mix' of people - gender, job types, experience etc. Different perspectives on the subject matter will often stimulate discussion and, again, encourage participation. Appoint a spokesperson for each group and change the spokesperson after each exercise.

  4. Action Plans

  5. The Message

    Try to ensure that the overall message put across by the video, the trainer and any support material you may wish to produce is consistent. Mixed messages can lead to confusion and a 'diluted' effect.

    Remember what your training session is about and make sure that the room itself is a model' of health and safety. For instance, there should be no exposed leads or trailing cables from audio visual equipment. Cover them over or securely tape them to the floor.

  6. Choose your own session plans

    According to the size of audience or your own personal preference, you may wish to follow either of the following session plans.

Plan 1 - Interrupted Video / DVD Viewing

Introduction (5 mins) Introduce yourself and the session objectives.

Discussion (10 mins) Invite the group to summarise its perception of the subject matter in relation to health and safety and distribute any relevant support material.

How to Show the Video / DVD / e-learning course

Tell the group something about the video they are about to see. (It is essential that you are familiar with the video yourself. Watch it once or twice beforehand and, if necessary, make notes of relevant points and potential areas for discussion).

Pause the video at the start of each relevant point. Ask and invite questions on these points, and, where appropriate, hand out any additional support material of particular relevance.

Final discussion (10 mins) Refer back to the session objectives and invite any final questions or comments. Thank the group for their participation.

Plan 2 - Uninterrupted Video / DVD / e-learning Viewing

Introduction (5 mins) Introduce yourself and the session objectives.

Discussion (10 mins) Invite the group to summarise its perception of the subject matter in relation to health and safety and distribute any relevant support material.

Video/DVD Tell the group something about the video/DVD they are about to see and look out for any key points you may think relevant.

Run the whole video.

On completion break the group down into smaller groups (see point 3) and hand out any additional support material of particular relevance.

After the exercise, check to ensure that each trainee has fully understood each point and encourage discussion on preventative measures for the future (see point 4).

Final Discussion

Refer back to the session objectives and invite any final questions or comments.

Thank the group for their participation.

ANNEX 10: Reading List

Books authored and co-authored by Sheila Pantry.

How to Give Your Users the LIS Services They Want
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Facet Publishing, September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-85604-672-5. £39.95

Managing Stress and Conflict in Libraries
Pantry, Sheila
Facet Publishing, June 2007
ISBN-10: 1856046133. ISBN-13: 978-1856046138. £29.95

Setting Up a Library and Information Service from Scratch
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Facet Publishing, September 2005
ISBN 1 85604 558 7. £34.95

Managing Outsourcing in Library and Information Services
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Facet Publishing, October 2004
ISBN 1 85604 543 9. £34.95

Your Essential Guide to Career Success
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Facet Publishing, 2003, 2nd edition
ISBN 1 85604 491 2. £22.95

Dealing with aggression and violence in your workplace
Pantry, Sheila
Library Association Publishing, 1996, The Successful LIS Professional Series
ISBN 1 85604 180 8. £14.95

Building community networks: strategies and experiences
Pantry, Sheila, ed.
Library Association Publishing, 1999
ISBN 1 856043371. £49.95

Becoming a successful Intrapreneur
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Library Association Publishing, 1998, The Successful LIS Professional Series
ISBN 1 856042928. £19.95

The Complete Guide to Preparing and Implementing Service Level Agreements
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Library Association Publishing, 2001
2nd ed, ISBN 1 85604 4106. £29.95

Creating a successful e-information service
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Facet Publishing (formerly Library Association Publishing), 2002
ISBN 1 85604 442 4. £32.95

Creating a successful e-information service (North American Edition)
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter. Edited by William Oldfield
Scarecrow Press, Inc. (Rowman & Littlefield, Inc.), October 2003
ISBN 0-8108-4778-7. $50.00

Developing a Successful service plan
Pantry, Sheila and Griffiths, Peter
Library Association Publishing, 2000, The Successful LIS Professional Series
ISBN 1 85604392 4. £19.95

Some other publishers of information science books

There are many others but the following will help those seeking to develop their services

Emerald Group Publishing -

Facet Publishing -

Information Science Publishing -

Tower Publishing -

Guidelines for the Establishment of CIS Health and Safety Information Centres and Other Information Centres

Creative Commons Licence This document by Sheila Pantry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd
85 The Meadows, Todwick, Sheffield S26 1JG, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1909 771024
Fax: +44 (0) 1909 772829

Web sites and services

See also

On a personal note

I hope that all who create and work in occupational safety and health information centres have as much enjoyment and satisfaction as I have had over the many years that I have been creating, maintaining, training staff and users in many countries worldwide.

One of the greatest joys has been meeting and making friends with so many people.

Sheila Pantry OBE
Sheffield, UK
August 2011