OHAs can contribute by helping managers manage sick leave more effectively. The nurse may be involved in helping to train line managers and supervisors on how to best use the HO service, how to refer staff, what kind of information will be needed, what to expect from occupational health. By developing transparent referral procedures, ensuring that medical confidentiality is maintained and that workers’ rights are respected, the OHA can do much to ensure that employees referred for evaluation due to sick leave are comfortable with the process.
OH nurses, with their close relationships with workers, knowledge of the work environment, and trends in ill health in the company, are often in a good position to advise management on preventing sick leave. In my experience, referral to General Practitioners has limited use for work-related issues, and gets better results, in addition to keeping the GP informed by referring a specialist occupational physician.
Planned rehabilitation strategies can help ensure a safe return to work for employees who have been absent from work due to ill health or injury. The nurse is often the key person in the rehabilitation program who, with the manager and individual employee, completes a risk assessment, designs the rehabilitation program, monitors progress, and communicates with the individual, the OH physician, and the line manager. Nurses have also been involved in the introduction of proactive rehabilitation strategies aimed at early detection of health changes before such conditions result in absence from work. Improving and maintaining work ability benefits many groups, the individual, the organization and society, as costly absences and other healthcare costs are avoided.
In many cases, the OH nurse has to work within the organization as clients advocate in order to ensure that managers fully appreciate the value of improving the health of the workforce. OH nurses have the skills necessary to carry out this work and can develop areas of special interest.
The occupational health nurse can develop proactive strategies to help the workforce maintain or restore its ability to work. New workers, older workers, women returning to work after pregnancy, or workers who are unemployed for an extended period may benefit from health counseling or a planned program of work-hardening exercises to help maintain or restore their ability to work. even before any health problems arise problems. Increasingly, the problems facing industry are psychosocial in nature and can be even more complex and costly to deal with. OH nurses, who work at the company level, are in a good position to advise management on strategies that can be adopted to improve the psychosocial health and well-being of workers.
Health and safety
OHA can have a role to play in the development of health and safety strategies. Where large or high-risk organizations have their own in-house health and safety experts, OHA can work closely with these experts to ensure that nurses’ expertise in health, risk assessment, health surveillance and environmental health management is fully used in the health sector. and security strategy. Occupational nurses are trained in health and safety legislation, risk management and control of health hazards in the workplace and can therefore make a useful contribution to the overall management of health and safety at work, with particular emphasis on in the assessment of ‘health’ risks.
Nurses often have close contact with workers and are aware of changes in the work environment. Because of nurses’ experience of the health effects of work, they are in a good position to be involved in hazard identification. Hazards may arise due to new work processes or practices or they may arise from informal changes to existing work processes and practices that the nurse can readily identify and assess likely risk. This activity requires and presupposes regular and frequent visits to the workplace by the occupational health nurse to maintain up-to-date knowledge and awareness of work processes and practices.
Legislation in Europe is increasingly guided by a risk management approach. OHAs are trained in risk assessment and risk management strategies and depending on their level of expertise and level