In most cases, occupational health and safety careers involve caring for patients who are injured on the job, and may also involve safety training and educational courses for employees. People with jobs in this field might work as physical therapists, health safety specialists, or ergonomics specialists. The field of occupational health careers also encompasses the work of doctors who specialist in occupational health care and the occupational health care nurses who work with them.
An integral part of occupational health care is educating individuals in a working environment on how to use safety practices that will minimize risks of accidents. The goal is to keep workers free from danger as well as illnesses and work-related medical conditions. Many people working in occupational health careers devote considerable time to preventing, rather than treating, work-related health problems.
An occupational health and safety specialist must examine working conditions and assess risks. In this field of work, the specialist will set forth a plan to eliminate or minimize potential hazards. Work hazards may include biochemical, environmental, or safety risks such as malfunctioning machinery. He may also reinforce regulations and guidelines for minors who work around potentially dangerous equipment, machinery, and chemicals.
Physical therapists who work in occupational health careers rehabilitate patients who have been injured at work. Physical therapists may design a unique program for each patient to help expedite recovery and healing time. This also helps to ensure the patient may return to full duties as soon as possible. The occupational health therapist often relays important information to the patient's supervising team at work. The therapist will typically require a prescription from the worker's physician to begin a therapy program with the patient.
An occupational health care physician will generally diagnose, care for, and prescribe treatment for a patient who has sustained a work related injury, condition or illness. This physician receives specialized training dealing with occupational injuries. He may prescribe scans or x-rays, physical therapy, or medication to the patient. Occupational health careers in nursing also require workers to receive special training in this field.
Technicians may receive certification and training for occupational safety. These technicians must inspect equipment to ensure all safety standards are met. If necessary, the occupational health technician or inspector will initiate all corrections and repair work required.
Hygienists may work in the field of occupational health care. These jobs may require identifying and isolating specific disease-causing germs or pathogens likely to cause illnesses in the workplace. The hygienists may work with technicians using special testing equipment to test levels of toxicity or other health hazards. Along with chemicals or pathogens, hazards such as noise pollution may be another risk factor to employees.