HSIS tracks illnesses and deaths among workers, emergency responders and the general public in connection with spills. The data are also used to identify factors that increase health risks and to develop effective strategies to prevent injuries, illness, and deaths.
The HSIS database has the potential to help various agencies in drafting legislation, developing rules and regulations, creating guidelines for responding to hazardous substance emergencies, and developing better procedures for protecting workers. These efforts should help to minimize the health impact of any hazardous substances that may be released to the environment during future spill incidents.
In addition to gathering general background information, the investigation attempts to determine what specific substances may have been released into the environment, who might have been exposed to these substances, what immediate injuries or health problems may have resulted from exposure and what efforts were made to evacuate people or to shelter them in homes, workplaces or businesses in the area.
How does Oregon HSIS learn about leaks and spills?
The HSIS system obtains information about a hazardous substance emergency from a variety of sources. Incident reports are sent to HSIS by the Oregon Emergency Response System (OERS), the Office of State Fire Marshal, and the National Response Center, after which HSIS staff follow-up to find out more about the incident by examining the records of other state agencies, and by talking with personnel involved in environmental protection activities, law enforcement, local fire officials, health care personnel and the persons directly involved in the incident.
Although reports to HSIS are voluntary, OERS is the designated agency in Oregon to receive required reports of spills.