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What Does an OHN Do?

Occupational Health Nurses (OHNs) are the primary specialists in the provision of Occupational Health services.

The primary role of the OHN is to coordinate the delivery of comprehensive, equitable, quality occupational health services for workers and worker groups. While specific roles and responsibilities may differ within organizations, the focus is to support and promote worker and workplace health and safety.

OHNs assist in the prevention, investigation, and treatment of workplace-related illnesses and injuries. In order to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, they assess workplaces in an effort to identify possible hazards and educate employers and employees on how to prevent incidents and injuries. They may recommend changes in procedures or develop ways to make workplaces safer. OHNs also ensure that workplaces meet the standards of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in their jurisdiction. 

Treating employees that are injured or ill due to workplace hazards is another important responsibility of an OHN. This may include providing care and collaborating with other Health Care Providers to support the worker through the recovery process.  They coordinate and provide disability management services for workers with work-related and non-work related illnesses and injuries with the goal of returning the worker to pre-incident abilities.

OHNs also perform fitness to work assessments on prospective, new and current employees to ensure that they are capable of performing the duties required by their positions and to monitor their health and safety. This may include physical examinations, vision and hearing tests, and drug or alcohol screening.

In addition, OHNs provide a vital role in worker health promotion. From development to delivery of wellness programs, OHNs support the general health and well-being of workers.

Occupational Health Nursing Programs

In terms of education, formal Occupational Health Nursing programs are available through several colleges and universities in Canada. In Alberta, MacEwan University offers an online part-time program. Other current Canadian providers include Lambton College (Ontario), Mohawk College (Ontario) and Durham College (Ontario).

To write the Occupational Nursing Certification Exam, contact the Canadian Nurses Association to review requirements.

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