What is the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) and how is it used to characterize occupational illness and injury incidents?

By John Hawes | Last updated: June 10, 2019

An appropriate classification system is required to help identify occupational tasks and settings that pose risks for injury or illness in the workplace. Accurate data on injury and illness classification can provide insights on how to monitor workplace exposure to hazards and the subsequent health effects that this exposure can produce. It can also help in the development of workplace interventions and assist in guiding workplace policy.

The Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) was designed to characterize occupational illness and occupational injury incidents. Developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it covers four main areas:

  1. The nature of the illness or injury (for example, trauma, diseases and disorders of body systems, infectious and parasitic diseases, neoplasms, tumors, cancers or other diseases, conditions and disorders).
  2. The part of the body affected by the illness or injury (for example, the head, neck, trunk, upper extremities, lower extremities, multiple body parts, or other body parts).
  3. The source and secondary source of the injury. In basic terms this covers what the injury or illness was caused by (for example, chemicals, containers, furniture or fixtures, machinery, parts and materials, people, plants, animals and minerals, structures and surfaces, tools, instruments and equipment, vehicles, or other objects).
  4. The event or exposure. This specifies how the injury or illness occurred (for example, injuries caused by persons or animals, fires or explosions, transportation accidents, falls, slips and trips, hazardous materials or chemicals, bodily contact with objects and equipment, or over exertion or extreme reaction to something).

The OIICS enables workplace illnesses and injuries to be specifically coded in each of the above four areas. This is helpful for workplace safety awareness and for the development of training programs aiming to prevent the occurrence of serious injuries and illnesses.

The OIICS falls under the banner of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Canadian Government uses a different classification system known as the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC).

A clear understanding of the hazards present in a particular workplace is a crucial element to maintaining a safe workplace for employees. Understanding the OIICS (or AWCBC if applicable) is one part of creating an effective workplace injury and illness prevention program. [Find out more in "8 key injury groupings to be aware of in the workplace"].

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Written by John Hawes

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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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