Employees know that their most important asset is their employees, without them, they will have nothing. This makes employee health and safety a vital concern and one that is often addressed by occupational health nurses. These professionals are nurses that observer worker’s in their daily routines and then provide their assessment of hazards and risks that are present and their solutions to the problems they find. Occupational health nurse training is another branch in the ever evolving world of nursing that can take you to new and different professional rewards.
Nurses who work in occupational health start with the same academic background that other nurses have. This simply means that the type of occupational health nurse position depends on how much education and nurse work is in the background. In addition to the nursing degree, there are training classes that provide specific training courses to prepare nurses to further their career and move into the occupational health field. These courses are offered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and should be considered a necessary stepping stone for moving into the field.
The Occupational Safety and Health courses will train you to identify the various aspects of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that is designed to ensure workplace safety. As the work nurse, you will be required to recognize situations and activities in the workplace that can be dangerous or have long-term health effects that are detrimental.
During these training courses you will learn things such as:
- How to identify hazards in the workplace and how those hazards have an impact on employee health.
- Understand hygiene principals in the industrial world and how those principals relate to engineering and administrative controls.
- Understand the use of personal protective equipment and identify areas in the workplace that need this equipment.
- Understand and have an in-depth knowledge of toxicology and epidemiology
The training that is received in these classes prepares the nurse to become an occupational health nurse.
Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but, just as all registered nurses have to be licensed, so do occupational health nurses. After identifying the academic and work requirements that are needed to work with employers and employees you should find out what licensing requirements are for your state and make sure you adhere to them.
Understanding the Tasks
Occupational health nurse training will allow you to take your nursing skills and use them to bring about changes in the workplace to make it safer. You will learn to recognize symptoms of occupational exposure that is causing health problems as well as learning hazard abatement and control processes. Some of the industries that your occupational health training can be used in include:
- Meat packing – handling meat poses a health risk to both the workers and the consumer and so the presence of an occupational health nurse to help identify risks involved.
- Construction – the construction industry has many risky situations that might not be identified unless someone with health training is on the scene.
These are just two examples of putting occupational health nurse training to use, the healthcare profession, manufacturing plants and many other jobs require the presence of a health care agent.
Once a registered nurse has the occupational health nurse training completed and they understand the tasks they will be completing, they are ready to move on to the day-to-day aspects involved in working with employers and employees, such as:
- Tracking employee’s medical history from an occupational standpoint.
- Providing pre-employment physicals and interpreting labs
- Assessing medical complaints from employees
- Observing and providing assessment of worker activities and the work environment
- Receiving medical reports from physicians and interpreting those for both employers and employees
- Monitoring worker’s health response to risky situations such as exposure to various toxins
- Managing illness and injury in the workplace and documenting these for record keeping and assessment for prevention of future illness or injury.
These daily activities will vary from one day to another and as an occupational nurse you may be faced with many different tasks.
Occupational nurse training takes the nursing degree a step further and removes you from the medical facility and into the role of liaison between the work environment and the worker who will help keep everyone safe and healthy.