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Since 1995, the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association (AOHNA) has been the authority for Alberta’s Occupational Health Nurses (OHNs).   AOHNA is a professional Association providing current and future OHNs with evidence-based information, networking and mentoring opportunities. We provide our members with relevant supports to guide their organizations to a healthy workforce.  Through focused programs and services, AOHNA supports OHNs to provide care and programming for excellence in Occupational Health and Safety.

AOHNA's primary roles are to:

  • Establish and promote Practice Standards for this nursing specialty based on Scope of Practice.

  • Promote adherence to the Canadian Nurses Association Code of Ethics through the implementation of guiding principles.

  • Promote Competency Standards that apply to Occupational Health Nursing practice.

  • Promote the health and safety of work and workplace communities.

  • Promote and provide continuous learning opportunities for Occupational Health Nurses.

  • Advocate for Occupational Health Nursing in business, hospitals, government and other professional areas.

  • Respond to issues critical to the practice of Occupational Health Nursing.

AOHNA serves members located across Canada and is a founding member of the national organization, the Canadian Occupational Health Nurses Association (COHNA).

The History of OHNs in Alberta

Early industrial nurses were a resourceful breed of women. Lacking budget, authority, and support staff, they surmounted health and safety problems without the specialized training today's occupational health nurses (OHNs) enjoy.  The appalling injuries and debilitating diseases that challenged them daily, reinforced their need for additional education, but specialized training in occupational health eluded them for 50 years. ln fact, the barriers they overcame while winning their fight for professional training were almost as daunting as the health and safety problems they encountered on the job.

But these single-minded women did overcome! So intense was their need for continuing education that it prompted them to organize industrial nurse support groups, push for certification, and create the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses' Association (AOHNA).  Well before the date of "May 6, 1977" was officially recorded in the history books as the beginning of the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association (as a special interest group of the AARN), the roots of the field of occupational health nursing had taken hold in the Province of Alberta.

Historical data about occupational health nursing can be found in the pages of the AOHNA booklet entitled AOHNA: 50 Years ln The Making (published in 1987), in the book A History of The Alberta Occupational Health Society (by Reg Ferguson, 1994) and some references to occupational health nursing history are incorporated into Heritage of Service, a book written in 1966 by Tony Gashman.

Four individuals - Dr. Rodney May, Elizabeth Butler, Joyce Cusack and Sophie Mandryk - are considered 'pioneers' of not only the field of occupational health nursing but part of the roots of OHN education and certification. They were all actively involved in some capacity or another
with groups such as The Alberta Industrial Nurses' Association, The Alberta Occupational Health Society and the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association.

Historical Documents

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