More Than Case Workers: Occupational Health Nurses and Safety
Occupational health nurses are the key to promoting whole health and safety on worksites.
Occupational health care is in the midst of a transformation. Safety will always be the leading pillar of occupational health, but today a greater focus is being cast on holistic health and wellness.
Since the Occupational Health and Safety Administration was established in 1970, it has introduced critically important programs and regulations that have greatly decreased the annual number of on-the-job fatalities and injuries. In 1973, the incident rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses was 11 per 100 full-time equivalent workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2018, that rate had fallen to just 2.8 per 100 full-time equivalent workers.
The trend indicates that workplace injuries are occurring less frequently, but organizations should not assume they can shift to a more hands off approach when it comes to the health of their employees. Businesses must keep pace with the changing nature of occupational health and address workers’ whole health beyond physical safety.
While known for treating injuries and mitigating health care costs and lost time, occupational health nurses have taken on greater responsibility over the last few years. More than just worker’s compensation case managers, they are strategic partners for businesses when it comes to providing holistic, proactive health care that addresses both safety and total health and well-being.
Changing Role of Occupational Health Nurses
Occupational health nurses have long helped organizations reduce on-the-job injury by assessing worksites for safety and providing immediate care when incidents occur. As the occupational health care landscape has shifted, occupational health nurses have integrated further into the worksite to become more personal, proactive health care providers. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the immense value occupational health nurses bring outside of injury care and case management.