Occupational health nurses (OHNs) offer a variety of health promotion programs. OHNs encourage employees to adopt safe and healthy lifestyles both on and off the job. Cost containment is also a concern of the OHN. Through collaboration with management and safety committees, programs to reduce the number of workdays lost due to injury may also reduce Workers Compensation premiums.
“Fitting the job to the worker” allows employees to function at optimal levels, reducing repetitive strain as well as specific injuries. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) are potentially serious and preventable. RSIs are not a new phenomenon but now affect the largest occupational group - computer users. Excessive computer use causes upper body immobility; this may lead to musculoskeletal injuries of the neck, back, shoulders, arms or hands. Other RSIs result from jobs requiring forceful lifting or pushing, awkward postures and repetitious movements.
Prevent chronic injuries - make ergonomics part of your health and safety program! OHNs provide a process whereby risks can be identified and assessed. They can also educate employees in eliminating or minimizing risks, then monitor their progress.
OHNs strive to reduce stress in the workplace through:
Ø confidential and individual counselling.
Ø group and individual information sessions on interpersonal relations in the workplace.
Ø conflict resolution, interpersonal or interdepartmental.
Ø developing programs and work procedures that reduce employee’s stress load.
Employee Assistance Programs
OHNs can develop and implement employee assistance programs (EAPs) in the workplace. An EAP is a confidential resource for employees undergoing stresses that may be affecting their ability to function on the job. Addressing these stresses often improves job performance.
Exercise is essential to maintain and promote good health. Everyone - from construction workers to office workers - needs to move and stretch their muscles and joints to promote circulation and relaxation, which in turn reduces fatigue and injury. OHNs initiate low-cost fitness at work, such as on-the-job stretch breaks, noon hour walks and more.
Health Risk Appraisals
OHNs provide individualized health risk appraisals, considering such factors as diet, exercise, stress and heart disease. Ways for an individual to offset risks are examined.
Other health promotion programs provided by an OHN include:
Ø blood pressure screening
Ø nutrition and weight counselling
Ø smoking cessation
A Publication of Manitoba Occupational Health Nurses Interest Group
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