Objectives : The recent legislation regarding “Well-being on the workplace” sealed a paradigm shift for nearly 100 Belgian external prevention services, leading to an important re-grouping movement – to 22 services at date – which has not yet found its final equilibrium. In the early nineties it became clear that new services requirements, multidisciplinary teams, higher quality standards – such as, recently, ISO 9001 – and the implementation of a medical “numerus fixus” at the universities would soon necessitate structural changes and the development of innovative instruments to meet future prevention needs.
The group IDEWE-IBEVE has played an active role in the genesis of the new legislation and the shift of traditional occupational health & safety prevention practices towards risk assessment, medical and environmental surveillance and psycho-social counselling at work, securing this revolution by the development of a modern software infrastructure to support its mobile prevention experts in a changing landscape.
Methods : The JaWS project is the largest effort in this novel support infrastructure. It centres around knowledge engineering: capturing and formalizing the wealth of expertise of a large multidisciplinary group of professionals, and applying it as building blocks in an auditing and reporting instrument suited to experts and novices alike.
The JaWS toolset is constructed to function as an automated refinery of expert knowledge, funnelling user-applied changes to a reviewing committee and re-distributing useful improvements to all mobile prevention advisors.
Stochastic methods are applied to detect and research possible relationships between observations belonging to distinct prevention domain ontologies (industrial sectors, professions, hazards, health and safety problems, medical investigations...) and to guide preventive measures tackling surfacing trouble spots.
Results : Hundreds of mobile prevention advisors have been using JaWS for two years now, generating standardized and tailored advisory reports. A team of epidemiologists is developing feed-back procedures based on harvested observations, and ICT-experts are shaping the JaWS mobile application generator to make maximum use of future mobile computing platforms.
The JaWS project is gathering momentum, regularly integrating expansion modules into the auditing platform. JaWS symbolizes the fact that IDEWE is sinking its teeth in the delicate task of re-inventing its role in a changing industrial and legal landscape, on the never-ending quest of making prevention work.