OBJECTIVE: Occupational medicine specialists in the Busan, Ulsan and Kyung-Nam areas established an area-based occupational disease surveillance system and used this system to collected case information for the purpose of preventing occupational diseases METHODS: 11 hospitals participated in this system. The authors selected five main diseases, which were hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD), occupational asthma, occupational skin disease and occupational lung cancer and established their case definitions. All cases were reported on the web, and real time analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Between Apri1 2001 and April 2003, 192 cases of HAVS, 118 cases of WRMSD, 33 cases of occupational asthma, 17 cases of occupational skin disease and 17 cases of occupational lung cancer (for a total of 377 cases of these five main diseases) were reported. Most of the HAVS cases came from shipbuilding, and 172 of them (92.7 %) were associated with grinding. Of the four main types of WRMSD, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) was the most prevalent with 46 cases and shipbuilding was also the main industry involved (83.9 %). The ergonomic risk factors involved mainly associated with the hand. In 19 (57.6 %) and 4 (12.1 %) cases of occupational asthma, the agents included isocyanate and welding fume, respectively. 64.7 % of the cases of occupational skin diseases were contact dermatitis, and organic solvents and welding fume were the main agents involved. The causative agents of occupational lung cancer included Cr, welding fume, PAH, Ni, etc. 10 (58.8 %) of the cases were diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma and 5 (29.4 %) as adenoma. CONCLUSION: This result showed that an area-based occupational disease surveillance system might provide an effective method of evaluating the prevalence of such diseases, however the Busan, Ulsan and Kyung-Nam provinces are too large to be treated as individual areas. Therefore, the authors suggest that each province should establish its own surveillance system.