Your Work & Your Health Information System

Download prototype and development materials

This information system was developed as a prototype in the mid-1990s, in conjunction with Sheffield Trade Union Studies Centre, based at Sheffield College. It was designed for educational purposes, for the general public and specifically for use on Health and Safety training courses. The user tells the computer what job they want to know about, and the computer provides them with information about the hazards and health problems most commonly associated with that job.

I was employed on a 6-month part time basis as Project Author/Programmer. I worked with two "Knowledge Engineers" - Taz Aziz, who had trained as a doctor, and Maurice Birch, a trade unionist who had been active for many years in "hazards of work" campaigning. Seb Schmoller was "Project facilitator". Workers at Sheffield Occupational Health project co-operated with us at "brainstorming sessions", where we transferred quantities of information stored in heads, to the database tables which made up our Knowledge Bank.

There was just one big problem. We knew very well that the world was going in the direction of Windows and mass access to the Internet, but at the time when we developed this system we were still living largely in the world of DOS and standalone PCs. Given the time available for the project, there was no practical alternative to developing the prototype in a DOS environment, using dBASE IV capabilities.

It was clear that, given its "DOS-iness" and lack of Web connectivity, the program's useful life was very limited indeed. Even so we felt rather pleased with the fruits of our labour, and the program continued to be used for quite a few years at Sheffield College. The development materials could well be of some help to anybody wanting to set up a Windows/Web-based system which did the same thing. Html-format versions of the data tables, together with the program code, full documentation, and the DOS version of the program (which is still runnable), can be downloaded from here.

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