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What is Occupational Health?

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

What is Occupational Health? Occupational health involves a range of activities with the aim of preventing ill health in the working population. It is looks at the effects of the working environment on the health of workers and also the workers ability to perform the tasks for which they were employed. It’s function is in helping to prevent rather than cure ill health arising from within the workplace.

Who is involved in occupational health? Due to the range of workplace activities, tasks, substances and environments there is a need for many different professionals to assist in monitoring, controlling, training and reviewing of risks.


The following is a list of some common occupational health professionals:

· occupational health physicians

· occupational health nurses

· toxicologists

· psychologists

· microbiologists

· epidemiologists

· ergonomists

· safety engineers

· health and safety consultants

· lawyers

· sociologists



What is the function of the Occupational Health Nurse (OHN)?

Occupational Health nursing is a specialised field within the nursing discipline. They practice in corporate, industrial and community settings to help improve the health and safety of workers.


What do Occupational Health Nurses (OHN) do?


OHNs may work as consultants, as an educator or researcher. It is also common to find OHN professionals in clinic settings as a case manager, nurse practitioner, or clinician. Some are employed by businesses to help manage in-house health and safety programs while others contract their services to business for specific assignments e.g. annual hearing screening (audiometry)





The following is a list of common roles and responsibilities:


· assistance with reduction in ACC levies

· development of innovative health and safety programmes

· management of work related diseases and injuries

· co-ordination of workers treatment and referrals

· disaster and emergency planning

· health monitoring (audiometric tests, lung function, vision screening, drug testing)

· rehabilitation case management

· workplace task observation and assessment

· respiratory fit testing

· health education & promotion

· wellbeing program administration

· training on health and safety topics

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