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Office of Occupational Health Nursing

200 Constitution Ave., N.W. | Washington, DC 20210 | (202) 693-2120

The Office of Occupational Health Nursing (OOHN) is OSHA's principal source of occupational health nursing expertise in enforcement activities, standards development, outreach and education, and cooperative programs. In addition, OOHN administers the Graduate Nurse Internship Program. Using the foundation of occupational health nursing (epidemiology, worker advocacy, occupational health risk assessment, critical thinking, educational principles), the Office, collaborates with other OSHA offices and Department agencies, initiates projects and develops programs to prevent work-related illness and injury.

The Staff

The Office is staffed with Health Scientists who hold advanced graduate degrees and have expertise in occupational health nursing. These nurses and other staff exercise leadership in occupational safety and health and provide technical assistance in support of all the Agency mission and goals.

Scope and Activities
  • Provides assistance and consultation to OSHA staff and the public regarding the establishment and evaluation of workplace safety and health programs; analyzes, evaluates and makes recommendations about the effectiveness of screening and surveillance programs; evaluates workplace hazards and their effects on workers; and assists with implementing OSHA recordkeeping requirements.
  • Participates in the development, review, and analysis of policies, guidelines, standards, and compliance activities (e.g., directives, instructions, interpretations, clarifications, locating expert witnesses).
  • Conducts presentations and contributes to conferences, hearings, and workgroups to represent the Agency and enhance relationships with safety and health professional groups; academia; industry associations; other federal agencies; employee representatives and OSHA Alliance partners.
  • Administers the Agency's Graduate Nurse Internship Program.
  • Designs and manages the Agency's outreach to young workers.
  • Analyzes, evaluates, and makes recommendations regarding workplace occupational health and safety programs, ensuring that they are appropriate, effective, efficient, and accessible to the population served, based upon worksite assessment, demographics, occupational health risks analyses, and program reviews.
  • Provides occupational health nursing expertise in complex investigations, particularly those involving occupational health care. This may involve analyzing, evaluating and making recommendations about the effectiveness of employers' screening and surveillance activities, identifying hazards and patterns of illness/injury (e.g., reviews of the OSHA records, employee medical records, health unit statistics, symptom surveys).
  • Reviews, analyzes, and prepares documentation of studies related to occupational health in OSHA activities and communicates the findings appropriately.
  • Develops and reviews OSHA outreach materials (e.g., publications, e-tools, web-based learning materials) to ensure that they are technically accurate, use adult learning principles, and are appropriately targeted.
  • Demonstrates and promotes an interdisciplinary collaboration between occupational health nurses and other occupational safety and health professionals, (e.g., physicians, safety professionals, and industrial hygienists).
OSHA Graduate Nurse Internship

The application period for the 2014 Graduate Nurse Internship Program is now closed.

The Graduate Nurse Internship Program is designed for registered professional nurses pursuing a graduate degree in either occupational health nursing or public health with an occupational health focus. The internship blends current OSHA projects and issues with the theoretical bases of the intern's academic study into a practical occupational safety and health experience at the national level. Selected interns are assigned to OOHN in OSHA's National Office in Washington, D.C., precepted by OOHN staff and assigned projects in support of the Agency's mission and goals. Internship rotations are a full-time consecutive eight-week (320 hours) educational opportunity and are scheduled to suit the intern's schedule between May and September of each year.

Applicants are rated on academic status, professional presentation, qualifications, experience, and demonstrated technical writing skills. The Instructions to the Applicant outlines the application process. The Program Outline, and the Letter of Intent provide other important information for the applicant. Minor changes to the Letter of Intent, designed to meet specific university needs, are acceptable. The Letter must be properly endorsed prior to submission, and must accompany the candidate’s application package. Failure to include a student-university signed Letter of Intent may eliminate the candidate from the competition. Each applicant must complete and forward all necessary application documents to the attention of the Director, Office of Occupational Health Nursing.

Special Topics and Projects
Distracted Driving

Year after year, the leading cause of worker fatalities is motor vehicle crashes. New communications technologies, such as texting while driving, are frequently linked to crashes. OSHA is partnering with others across government, industry and the public to bring together information and tools to attack texting while driving and other distracted driving hazards. learn more about combating this problem on OSHA's website and at the Department of Transportation's distracted driving website.

Young Worker Health and Safety

The characteristics of young workers and the nature of their employment, particularly the presence of job hazards, create multiple factors that increase their risk of injury or illness on the job (NIOSH, 2003). OOHN has particular expertise in assisting youth to establish safe work habits and leads OSHA's outreach to young workers. One example of OOHN's activities in this area is their of the Federal Network for Young Worker Safety and Health (FedNet), an informal group of federal departments and agencies that meet quarterly to maximize cooperative efforts to promote young worker safety and health. OOHN also edits and maintains OSHA's Young Workers webpage which provides health and safety information for young workers, employers, parents, teachers.

Safe Patient Handling

OOHN maintains an active involvement in promoting safe patient handling. Health care workers are at risk of musculoskeletal injuries such as muscle and ligament strain and tears, joint and tendon inflammation, pinched nerves and herniated discs during handling, transferring and repositioning of patients. Good work practice includes implementing engineering and work practice controls to help reduce or prevent these injuries. OSHA and other organizations concerned with healthcare worker health and safety recommend minimizing manual lifting of patients in all cases and eliminating manual lifting entirely when possible. OOHN edits the Hospital eTool on OSHA's webpage which contains recommendations for a Patient Handling Program and for Patient Handling Controls.

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