Occupational Health: Core Areas of Knowledge and Competence, Part 1

It is not possible to describe a highly intricate and dynamic process such as occupational health nursing simply in terms of core activities or tasks. Occupational Health Nurse (OHA) are continuously learning new skills, adapting current practices to meet new needs and developing new methods to solving problems and consequently their practice isn’t static but is continuously improving based upon a core assortment of skills.

However, within this restriction it is possible to describe those core regions of knowledge and proficiency that occupational health nurses utilize. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to give an indication of the wide array of competencies that occupational health nurses demonstrate in practice.

The Clinician

Primary prevention

The OHA is skilled in primary prevention of disease or injury. Occupational health nurses are proficient in considering factors, such as individual behavior and customs in relation to actual working practices. The nurse may also collaborate in the identification, conception and correction of work factors, selection of individual protective equipment, prevention of industrial injuries and diseases, in addition to providing advice in matters concerning protection of the environment. Because of the occupational caregivers close affiliation with the employees, and knowledge and expertise in the working environment, they’re in a fantastic position to identify early changes in working practices, identify workers concerns over safety and health, and by introducing these to direction in a different objective manner can be the catalyst for changes in the workplace that lead to primary prevention.

Emergency care

The OHA is a Registered Nurse with a great deal of clinical experience and expertise in handling sick or wounded people. The nurse could, where such obligations form a part of the occupation, provide initial emergency maintenance of workers injured at work before transfer of the injured worker to hospital or the arrival of the emergency services. In many cases, where hazardous conditions exist in work, or at which the workplace is far removed from other health care facilities, this function will form a major section of an occupational health nurse’s job. Occupational health nurses employed in mines, on oil rigs, at the desert regions or in regions where the healthcare systems aren’t yet completely developed will be acquainted with a broad assortment of emergency care techniques and may have developed additional skills so as to fulfill this role. For others, that are working in situations where the emergency services are on hand, they may only offer an additional level of support beyond that supplied by the industrial first aider.

Nursing diagnosis

Occupational health nurses are skilled in assessing client’s health care needs, establish a nursing diagnosis and formulating proper nursing care programs, in conjunction with the patient or client groups, to meet those needs. Nurses can then implement and evaluate nursing interventions designed to achieve the maintenance aims. The nurse has a leading role in assessing the needs of groups and individuals, and has the ability to analyze, interpret, plan and execute strategies to attain specific objectives. By applying the nursing process the nurse leads to workplace health direction and by so doing helps to improve the health of the working population at the shop floor level. Nursing analysis is a holistic concept that doesn’t focus only on the treatment of a particular disease, but rather considers the entire person and their healthcare needs in the broadest context. It’s a health based version rather than a disease based version and nurses have the abilities to employ this strategy with the functioning populations they serve.

General Health information and health assessment

The OHA is going to have the ability to give advice on a broad range of health problems, and especially on their relationship to working capacity, health and security at work or where modifications to the job or working environment could be forced to care for their changing health status of workers.

In many respects employers aren’t solely concerned with only those conditions that are directly caused by work, but do need their occupational health employees to help manage any health related issues that might arise which might influence the workers performance or attendance at work, and lots of employees appreciate this amount of help being provided to them in the workplace because it is so suitable for them. In particular the evolution of health care services to men on the job, younger populations and those from cultural groups can be most effective in attaining these sometimes hard to reach populations.

Research and Using evidence based practice

In addition to utilizing information and knowledge made by research in a variety of areas to encourage activities that are relevant to the occupational health component of the function, occupational health nurses will also utilize fully research information available from many areas to help support the general health of the working population.


The OH nurse is in a fantastic position to advise management on the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of workplace health management strategies and to engage fully in every one of those stages. Possibility to perform that job will depend upon degree of nurse education, skills and experience.