Occupational Health Nurses Week
Occupational Health Nurses Week is April 3-9, 2022!
OHN Week is a national observance to recognize and celebrate YOU as members of the occupational and environmental health nursing profession. While most people understand the function of a nurse in a clinical setting, not everyone is aware that there are thousands of OHNs who work in promoting and protecting the health of workers in the US and around the globe. Through case management, coaching and health counseling, health promotion and wellness activities, legal and regulatory compliance, and workplace hazard detection and mitigation, occupational and environmental health nurses improve the health of employees and contribute to a healthy bottom line for businesses.
Annually, Occupational Health Nurses Week is selected by AAOHN for dates in April. The week also commemorates the inception of the first and largest professional association for occupational and environmental health nurses. Begun in 1942, with 300 nurses from 16 states, the organization today has 70 chapters and over 4,000 members dedicated to advancing the health, safety and productivity of domestic and global workforces by providing education, research, public policy and practice resources for occupational and environmental health nurses.
The roles of OHNs are as diverse as clinicians to educators, case managers to corporate directors and consultants. The OHN’s responsibilities have expanded immensely to encompass a wide range of job duties, including but not limited to:
OHNs routinely coordinate and manage the care of ill and injured workers. Their roles as case managers have grown more sophisticated with the coordination and management of work-related and non-work-related injuries and illnesses, which include aspects related to group health, workers’ compensation, and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and short-term/long-term disability benefits.
Besides counseling workers about work-related illnesses and injuries, OHNs often counsel for issues such as substance abuse, psychosocial needs, wellness/health promotion concerns, and other health or work-related concerns. They may also assume primary responsibility for managing employee assistance programs or handling referrals to employee assistance programs and/or other community resources, and coordinate follow-up.
OHNs design programs that support positive lifestyle changes and individual efforts to lower risks of disease and injury and the creation of an environment that provides a sense of balance among work, family, personal, health, and psychosocial concerns. Immunization, smoking cessation, exercise/fitness, nutrition and weight control, stress management, monitoring of chronic diseases, and effective use of medical services are just a few of the preventive strategies to keep workers healthy and productive.
Whether it is the array of state and federal regulations put forward by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or laws that affect the workplace, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), OHNs work with employers on compliance with regulations and laws affecting workers and the workplace.
Worker and Workplace Hazard Detection: OHNs recognize and identify hazards; monitor, evaluate, and analyze these hazards by conducting research on the effects of workplace exposures; and gather and use health and hazard data to select and implement preventive and control measures as a continual process. Examples include an analysis of the effects of toxic chemical exposure, development of plans to prevent work-related accidents, and an analysis of groups, not just individuals, to detect patterns, trends, changes, and commonalities as in pandemic situations.
Whether you're talking to the media, colleagues, or simply your friend, incorporate these messages in your conversations to help promote the profession.
- OHNs step into times of crisis to provide preventative care and innovation to save lives and reduce suffering of worker populations.
- OHNs are advocates and business leaders delivering quality care and healing within organizations to keep employees healthy and businesses open.
- OHNs bring a combined knowledge of health and business blended with healthcare expertise to balance the requirement for a safe and healthful work environment with a “healthy” bottom line.
- OHNs play a critical role in the pandemic. They develop policies and procedures on the prevention and mitigation of transmission of the virus, including disinfection, contact tracing, return-to-work decisions, tracking employees in isolation or quarantine, providing PPE and more. OHNs may administer the COVID-19 vaccine to employees or within their communities.
- Through case management, coaching and health counseling, health promotion and wellness activities, legal and regulatory compliance, and workplace hazard detection and mitigation, occupational and environmental health nurses improve the health of employees and contribute to a healthy bottom line for businesses.
- OHNs implement worker population health management programs that promote workers’ health, engagement and productivity. Their commitment to creating a culture of health and safety every day drives business success and demonstrates corporate social responsibility.
- Without OHNs, a business’ bottom line may suffer. Businesses count on OHNs to protect their workers’ health, which in turn helps to reduce absenteeism, lower turnover rates, improve employee morale, increase productivity, and create a positive brand image.
- AAOHN supports the OHN community as they support their own communities.
- OHNs keep the world open for business.