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Occupational Health Nurse

Department: Health Services Effective Date: February 2007
Grade: USG 12 Reports to: Medical Director of Health Services

General Accountability

This position reports to the Medical Director of Health Services. She/he is accountable for occupational health programming and services and promoting workplace health and wellness within the guidelines and requirements of relevant Occupational Health and Safety legislation... She/he consults with experts on and off campus to provide the breadth and depth of programming necessary for a wide spectrum of Occupational Disease Prevention, Health Promotion and Education appropriate to the very diverse workforce of CUPE, staff and faculty at the University of Waterloo.  She/he frequently co-ordinates multi-disciplinary activities employing the knowledge, skill and experience of professionals from Human Resources, Safety, Services for Persons with Disabilities, Mental Health,  Infection Control and Public Health.

The occupational health nurse’s clinical role includes clinical nursing, first aid emergency care, ongoing medical treatments, crisis intervention, counselling and support to employees on individual health issues with referrals to appropriate external and internal resources.  The occupational health nurse is supported in these functions by the clinical nurse and physician team within Health Services.  The occupational health nurse works with employee health care providers and Human Resources to facilitate early and safe returns to work following absence due to illness or injury.  The occupational health nurse develops pre-participation protocols, monitoring for potential workplace health exposures and provides health education and promotion for CUPE, staff and faculty of the university community.

The University Occupational Health Nurse will abide by the requirements of the Regulated Health professions Act and treats as strictly confidential, any information learned about individuals through interviews, medical tests, examinations, or reports from other health professionals.  Adherence to medical confidentiality is good occupational health practice and essential for effectiveness of the programme.   Adherence to confidentiality establishes the foundation for employee’s trust and confidence in the department.

It is understood that the occupational health nurse practices in accordance with the College of Nurses of Ontario Standards of Nursing Practice and Guidelines for Ethical Behaviour, the Regulated Health Disciplines Act, 1991, and the Ontario Occupational Health Nurses Association Standards of Practice for Occupational Health Nursing and any other legislation applicable to her/his individual setting

Professional Accountability:

The occupational health nurse is a registered nurse with additional knowledge and skill in:

Nature and Scope

The Occupational Health Nurse is responsible for the following:

Statistical Data

Specific Accountabilities

Specialized/Unique Occupational Health Tasks

1.  Workplace Surveillance and Health Risk Identification:

The Occupational Health Nurse in collaboration with the members of the Safety Office conducts workplace surveillance, a term used to describe activities which determine whether groups of workers may be suffering actual or potential work related injury or illness.  Occupational Health Nurse conducts workplace surveillance utilizing methods to detect, appraise, identify and manage health hazards and exposures to physical and chemical hazards at work.

2.  Health Surveillance:

As part of health surveillance, the Occupational Health Nurse conducts activities which determine whether groups of workers may be suffering an occupational illness as a result of exposure to a particular hazard or group of hazards.  Health surveillance is always based on environmental assessments with exposures evaluated and documented. Examples of health risk assessment and medical surveillance include immunization for employees who are exposed to infectious biological agents.  This includes those who come into contact with: animals, human blood or body fluids, certain bacteria and viruses used in research, communicable diseases etc

3.  Health Promotion and Protection:

The Occupational Health nurse is responsible for employee health promotion and protection.  This programming focuses on the prevention of illness/injury by promotion of health and well-being using  strategies directed towards modifying the behaviour of individuals/groups and encouraging them to accept responsibility, in matters which affect their health and over which they have control, towards achieving a healthy lifestyle.  Anticipatory interventions include strategies for protection from agents causing disease and /or hazards in the work environment and /or university community.

4.  Primary Care:

Primary care is the set of nursing actions that are provided to manage illness or functional challenges in the workplace.  The goal is to prevent complications, promote recovery and facilitate rehabilitation of both occupational and non-occupational illness and injury.  Primary care is based on the nursing process, on a theoretical base consistent with occupational health nursing practice, on knowledge of the health/illness continuum and on norms and deviations of the continuum.

5.  Counselling:

Counselling is the process of helping employees to clarify problems and make informed decisions and choices while giving positive reinforcement.  It provides strategic interventions and appropriate referrals to deal with a crisis situation and time for the employee to reflect on impending decisions and evaluate actions taken.  Counselling is a broad area that ranges from simple encouragement of clients who are motivated to make positive changes to health behaviour to providing direct care for clients in a crisis situation.  The type of counselling offered is determined by the level of additional preparation and expertise of the nurse.

6.  Rehabilitation/Case Management:

Rehabilitation/Case Management is the process/provision of services necessary to restore an individual to the fullest physical, mental, emotional, social, vocational and economical independence of which they are capable.  Rehabilitation cases may be either work or non-work related.  Rehabilitation includes preventative processes whereby the Occupational Health Nurse implements knowledge gained from research studies/epidemiological studies within the workplace and work culture.

Working Conditions