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Occupational Health Nurses (OHN)s are registered nurses who independently observe and assess the worker's health status with respect to job tasks and hazards. Using their specialized experience and education, these registered nurses recognize and prevent health effects from hazardous exposures and treat workers' injuries/illnesses.


Educationally prepared to recognize adverse health effects of occupational exposure and address methods for hazard abatement and control, OHNs bring their nursing expertise to all industries such as meat packing, manufacturing, construction as well as the health care industry.
  • OHNs:
    • Have special knowledge of workplace hazards and the relationship to the employee health status.
    • Understand industrial hygiene principles of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment.
    • Have knowledge of toxicology and epidemiology as related to the employee and the work site.
(For industry related information, see the specific industry of interest.)

Typical OHN Activities:
  • Observation and assessment of both the worker and the work environment
  • Interpretation and evaluation of the worker's medical and occupational history, subjective complaints, and physical examination, along with any laboratory values or other diagnostic screening tests, industrial hygiene and personal exposure monitoring values
  • Interpretation of medical diagnosis to workers and their employers
  • Appraisal of the work environment for potential exposures
  • Identification of abnormalities
  • Description of the worker's response to the exposures
  • Management of occupational and non-occupational illness and injury
  • Documentation of the injury or illness
Academic Preparation

OHNs with varying degrees of academic preparation from entry level to PhD work in capacities commensurate with their experience and academic preparation: clinical nurse, clinical nurse manager, nurse manager, corporate nurse, nurse researcher, nurse educator and nurse consultant. Licensure

As all professional registered nurses, occupational health nurses are required to have a license from the state in which they practice nursing. States vary in their requirements and the responsibilities they grant for scope of nursing practice. See the board of nursing or the board of health professionals governing the practice of nursing in your state for further information. Certification

Reflects specialty practice and knowledge at a mastery level. Occupational Health Publications Related Occupational Health Issues: For specific information on related occupational health and safety issues, see the OSHA Alphabetic Site Index.

Training/Publications Other

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

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