In honor of Occupational Health Nurses Week organized by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, we’ve asked our Director of Onsite Services, RN who has worked in the occupational health field for years to give us an inside look at the career. AllOne Health would like to thank all of our Occupation Health Nurses for their dedication and passion.
Written by Elaine Reyna Farias BSN RN COHNS-CM Director of On Site Services
I got into Nursing because I love people and love helping people. I started off in the operating room fresh out of nursing school, but it didn’t give me the fulfillment of being able to truly engage with the patient. When I learned about Occupational Health Nursing (during nursing school) there was something about wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots that just drew me in.
After eight years in the operating room, I was fortunate enough to be hired as an occupational health nurse OHN for Motorola then Toyota before working for AllOne Health for the past eight years. I have been in the occupational health field for twenty-six years now, but back then little did I know how much my career would evolve.
The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses provides insight on what OHNs do and why they are a vital part of safety in any organization. OHNs manage cases from health counseling to legal and regulatory compliance, which help increase a business’ bottom line. You can learn more about OHN Week 2018 here.
Safety and Human Resources drive a lot of what OHN’s do daily but there are many more areas OHNs are involved in. One of our biggest challenges is balancing what is right for the business with what is right for the employee regarding health and safety. It’s been my experience that when you do right by the employee you are ultimately protecting the company. Helping create a safe work environment with employees that are fit for their job duties is the best course of action.
Some of the most important things OHNs do that cannot be measured in dollars is identify potential domestic violence victims in our everyday workings and provide the proper resources to help the individual. OHNs help identify troubled employees and refer them to EAP as we are often times face to face with the person.
Occupational Health nurses can switch on a dime from emergency response to a workplace fatality to grief counseling co-workers. We listen, a lot, because we care. Employees will put their trust in us when we prove that we are trustworthy and check “the company nurse mentality” at the exam room door.
In some settings we are part of the “Crisis Management Team” working with HR, Safety, Security, EAP, Legal and plant management to prevent workplace violence. Sometimes we know it’s looming and sometimes we don’t. Unfortunately, at one company where I worked we experienced two Murder/Suicides (at different times and sites). You must protect your greatest asset, your employees.
Nurses can wear many hats; my favorite is the hard hat.
I learned from the best OHNs and Safety professionals in Texas and I am forever grateful. I have been lucky to have experienced so many different industries in my current job. I still love what I do, and I can’t see myself doing anything else.