Nurses who care for employees in a place of business are known as occupational health nurses. This role differs from some traditional nursing jobs in terms of location, but the care and service of people remains the same. Occupational health nurses are employed by companies to ensure the health and safety of workers in order for the organization to retain a highly productive workforce.
Occupational health nurses may be employed in such facilities as factories, business organizations, prisons and retention centers, government agencies, and hospitals to care for the staff working there. These types of nurses are responsible for managing the care of employees, including treating injuries and illnesses that occur during work hours. They may assist with filing paperwork if a work-related injury occurs that results in compensation. They may also arrange for rehabilitation services and provide assistance when an injured employee returns to work.
A major role of the occupational health nurse is to educate workers to promote health and prevent injury. This may include teaching employees about healthy lifestyle practices, such as smoking cessation and weight loss. They may instruct workers about safety with job duties, such as demonstrating proper lifting techniques to avoid back injuries or using personal protective equipment correctly.
Occupational health nurses are also responsible for ensuring that workers’ records are up-to-date in areas such as immunizations and physical health checks. If an injury occurs on the job, an occupational health nurse can check the worker’s records for facts about his or her previous state of health before the injury, such as medications or a history of chronic illness. If a major event occurs at a place of business, such as a disaster or an outbreak of illness, an occupational health nurse has policies in place in order to help control the situation and care for large numbers of people. She is equipped to delegate care for others to step in to help and can find necessary resources to bring in help from an outside facility.
Many nursing schools train students in the basic aspects of occupational health nursing, although the policies of each place of employment vary. Each occupational health nurse will have a different role depending on the institution. Most occupational health nurses have graduated from nursing school and are registered nurses; background experience with the facility may also be necessary but is not always required.