For employees in any industry, knowing that their workplace is safe and equipped with the means and resources required to respond to an emergency brings peace of mind. A safe environment is essential to employee satisfaction and makes it easier for a business to retain employees, reduce long-term operational costs, increase productivity and boost employee morale. In short, a safe workplace and success in business go hand in hand.
Many organizations turn to occupational health nurses to ensure workplace safety, tasking them with designing and implementing programs, providing resources and delivering medical care to employees. Occupational health nurses help employees perform to the best of their abilities, by eliminating distractions and prioritizing their health. By pursuing an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing, occupational health nurses can learn the essential business and nursing skills needed to create a safe work environment and protect employees from danger.
What Does an Occupational Health Nurse Do?
Building and maintaining a safe environment in an organization is a multifaceted responsibility. From developing and executing programs to improve the organization’s strategies to providing health care to employees, occupational health nurses handle a variety of tasks. When they do their jobs effectively, occupational health nurses improve the health of employees and the long-term success of an organization by minimizing the dangers and risk factors in the workplace.
Occupational health nurses work with management to recommend programs and solutions to improve workplace safety. By identifying and analyzing weaknesses in existing strategies, nurses are able to suggest ways to adapt and manage risk. To do so, they must have an in-depth understanding of all federal or state health regulations that impact the health care industry as well as their organization, ensuring that any policies they put in place are in compliance.
As health care practitioners, nurses also help employees struggling with unhealthy behaviors, injuries or illnesses, such as stress or weight management, smoking, or recovery from an injury. Using knowledge and strategies gained from an advanced degree in nursing, occupational health nurses can make a positive impact on the lives of employees by providing them with the care and support they need to be successful at work.
The Skills of an Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational health nurses must have the skills and training required to take on the tasks of the job. Building core competencies in communication and leadership can make all the difference when assisting employees or making policy and procedure recommendations and decisions. Here are a few of the necessary skills for occupational health nurses.
Occupational health nurses work in both a management and administrative capacity in addition to being health care practitioners. They interact with individuals at many levels of an organization and often assume a supervisory role. Strong leadership skills allow nurses not only to instill trust in those they work with or care for, but also to be comfortable delegating tasks when necessary, allowing the system to function more effectively and productively.
Analytical and Critical Thinking
Diagnosing problems in an organization’s health and safety strategies is not so different from diagnosing illnesses in people. In both cases, nurses must possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills to be able to make intelligent, informed decisions about the health and safety of employees and their organizations.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Occupational health nurses interact with others daily. Whether suggesting strategies for organization-wide improvements or delivering care to an injured employee, their interpersonal and communication skills make all the difference in how well they can do their jobs. By using techniques such as active listening, respectful language and manners, empathy and compassion, nurses are better able to connect with others, building trusting relationships that foster progress and a positive workplace environment.
Occupational Health Nurse Salary
Occupational health nurses are in demand in a variety of industries: From corporate offices to government agencies to factories, the need for a safe and healthy workplace is universal. Since the duties, responsibilities and programs nurses implement can vary depending on their workplace, so can their required levels of work experience, certifications or specialties in education — all factors that can influence their salary and opportunity for advancement.
According to PayScale, the median annual salary of occupational health nurses was around $74,200 as of October 2021. Typically, an occupational health nurse’s specific salary will depend on whether they work for a private company, government agency or health care organization. Also, the cost of living in their area, in addition to their education and work experience, can influence their salary and any other
Pursue a Role in Occupational Health
Occupational health nurses implement programs designed to keep employees out of danger and make them feel safe at work. By providing care when they need it most, occupational health nurses help their colleagues get back to work sooner and return home safely at the end of the workday.
With its fully online coursework, three start dates and two concentration options — Family Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner — the online Master of Science in Nursing from the University of North Dakota is designed to provide all the opportunities and practical skills you need to succeed. Discover how earning an advanced nursing degree can help you pursue your professional goals.
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Houston Chronicle, “Importance of Workplace Health & Safety”
Johnson & Johnson Nursing, Occupational Health Nurse
PayScale, Average Occupational Health Nurse Salary
SafetyWorks, Safety Pays for Everyone
Society for Human Resource Management, Occupational Health Nurse Supervisor