What are the Different Occupational Health Nurse Jobs?

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  • Written By: Linda Hinkle
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2019
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Occupational health nurses (OHN) are registered nurses who specialize in occupational health and safety. Their work focuses primarily on identifying and preventing hazards in the workplace and treating ill or injured workers. They are expected to observe conditions and make independent assessments regarding safe and healthy practices. The vast number of issues that affect the workplace environment has led to a wide and diverse range of occupational health nurse jobs available to those in the profession.

Occupational health nurse jobs exist in all types of industries. These jobs are as varied as the industries themselves, ranging from accident prevention to employee fitness to disaster readiness. Occupational health nurses who work in an industrial setting can utilize their combination of health expertise and business knowledge to develop programs that are mutually beneficial to employers and workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the role of the occupational health nurse as one of the most instrumental in providing high quality health care and education to workers.

One example of how occupational health nurse jobs can benefit employers deals with minimizing employee absenteeism. This is an area of great concern to employers because high absenteeism decreases productivity. Employers depend on OHNs to offer advice, make recommendations, and help develop programs to address the issue. In order to do so, nurses must collect information about the nature of workers' health problems and analyze how those problems affect job performance.


Occupational health nurse jobs also exist in many settings outside of industry. Universities, insurance companies, government facilities, and private consulting companies are examples of other types of organizations that may utilize the expertise of these nursing specialists. Some nurses establish their own private consulting practices.

The day-to-day tasks of an occupational health nurse vary a great deal, depending primarily on the type of job. Other than treating sick or injured workers, typical duties often include counseling workers about health related issues, identifying and analyzing risk factors in the workplace environment, and making presentations to groups about health and safety. Some jobs require much more interaction with patients than others. Nurses who work in consulting or management positions typically do not treat patients directly.

Many occupational health nurse jobs involve dealing with federal programs that regulate workplace conditions. In the United States, companies often hire nurses to oversee compliance with programs such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Many of these jobs include treating patients involved in workers' compensation and work-related injury cases. The government agencies themselves may also hire occupational health nurses to help facilitate their programs.



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