Occupational Health: Core Areas of Knowledge and Competence, Part 4

Environmental Health Management

The OH nurse, particularly in those organizations, such as SME’s, who may not have a designated environmental health manager, can advise the company on simple measures to cut the use of natural resources, minimize the production of waste, promote re-cycling and make sure that environmental health management is placed on every organizations agenda. The OH nurse can also find appropriate specialists in their locations to advice or deal with environmental health management. The occupational health nurse may give by taking these issues forward in the absence of other specialists.

Adviser to management and staff on issues related to workplace health management.

OH nurses involved in workplace health management can sometimes be asked to act as advisers to management and staff on the development of workplace health policies and practices, and can fulfill an advisory role by participating in, such as, health and safety committee meetings, health promotion meetings, and may be called upon to give independent advice to managers or workers who have specific concerns over health related risks.

As a liaison to other external health or social agencies.

OH nurses act in an advisory role when seeing people who may have problems that, whilst not directly related to work may affect future work attendance or performance. The nurse may be involved in advising people to seek advice from their own family doctor or general practitioner, or other external agency that may be better placed to aid the person.

Health educator & Health Promotor.

Health education as one of the key prerequisites of workplace health promotion is integral aspect of the OH nurses’ role. In some countries the nurse is required to support activities for adoption of the healthy lifestyles within on-going health promotion process, as well as take part in health and safety activities. OH nurses can carry out a needs assessment for health promotion within the company, prioritize activities in consultation with management and workers, develop and plan right interventions, deliverer co-ordinate the delivery of health promotion strategies and can play a valuable role in evaluating the delivery and achievements of the health promotion strategy.

Counselor

In the small or medium-sized company the occupational health nurse may be the only health care professional present most of the time and they can help people working there in dealing with mental health and work-related stress. For many people the occupational health nurse, working at the company level, may be the first point of contact with health care providers and these nurses can do much to make sure that people are referred to the right agency.

Health Needs Assessor

A specialist OH nurse will need to be well skilled in undertaking a nurse-based health needs assessment at both the individual and the organizational level. This type of assessment can be used as the basis for individual case management or occupational health program planning. OH nurses may use research based skills in carrying out the assessment, in handling the data generated in the assessment and in interpreting the results and advising management acting as a member of the multidisciplinary team.

Evidence Based Practitioner

Increasingly all health care providers are using evidence based approach to practice that requires the professional to seek the best available information on which to base their practice. Occupational health nurses are skilled in searching the literature, reviewing the evidence available, which may be in the form of practice guidelines or protocols, and applying these guidance documents in a practical situation.

Occupational health nurses should be well skilled in presenting the evidence, identifying gaps in current knowledge, and allowing others to review critically the implementation of care plans based on their assessment of the evidence.

Epidemiologist

The most widely used and accepted form of investigation into occupational related ill-health and disease is based on large-scale epidemiological studies. Occupational health nurses are advised to become familiar with the principles and basic methods used in epidemiology.

This concludes the four-part series the core areas of knowledge of the occupational health nurse.

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