The development of a prototype database for the voluntary reporting of occupational exposure data on chemicals

P. J. Ritchie*, J. W. Cherrie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    A prototype occupational exposure database was developed as part of a study to retrospectively collect chemical exposure data from U.K. industry. The data dictionary for the database was constructed using existing recommendations on core data elements developed by working groups from the ACGIH and the European Union. The study also made use of existing job and workplace coding schemes. The practicalities of gathering the data by voluntary donation, its storage in a database, and the transfer of suitably anonymised data to the U.K. Health and Safety Executive's National Exposure Database system were investigated and assessed. Prior to the development, several existing exposure database systems were evaluated for their suitability to store the data from the study. Though of high quality, these were found to be insufficiently flexible for the diversity of datasets encountered and so the prototype exposure database was constructed using a leading database development package. The database was successfully used to gather data and forward it in a suitable format to the U.K. Health and Safety Executive. The published recommendations on occupational exposure databases and the associated coding schemes provided a very useful foundation for designing and implementing the prototype database. However, as data collection proceeded it became clear that the existing recommendations often were poorly understood and misinterpreted, or at least interpreted differently, by different database designers, data collectors, and other users of occupational exposure data. It is suggested that several items in the ACGIH and European Union core recommendations are ambiguous and need to be clarified. Once agreed, the improved database design criteria need to be widely promoted to foster a common understanding and to encourage their use by all those involved in collecting occupational exposure data. Beyond this, recommendations for exposure databases should be augmented to facilitate easy exchange of data between organizations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)295-299
    Number of pages5
    JournalApplied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2001


    • Core Exposure Data
    • Occupational Coding Schemes
    • Occupational Exposure Databases

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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