Occupational health

Role of the occupational health nurse in the workplace (The)


This document describes the role of the occupational health nurse in Europe, and whilst recognizing the wide variation that exists in occupational health nursing practice between different countries this document reflects the standards that have already been achieved in those countries where occupational health nursing is at its most advanced.

Within the WHO European Member States the discipline of occupational health is undergoing rapid development. This is largely due to the new demands and expectations from employers, employees and their representative bodies as they recognize the economic, social and health benefits achieved by providing these services at the workplace. The rapid development of occupational health services has also, in part, been driven by the expanding program of EU legislation in the areas of health, safety and environmental protection and the need by employers to respond to this legislation.

In addition occupational health services, provided at the workplace to address the health care needs of working populations have been identified as an important component of the public health strategy. These services can also make a significant contribution to other government initiatives, such as; reducing health inequalities, reducing social exclusion and sickness absence, and by protecting and promoting the health of the working population occupational health services can help to reduce the overall burden of ill health in Europe.

Occupational health nurses, as the largest single group of health care professionals involved in delivering health care at the workplace, have responded to these new challenges. They have raised the standards of their professional education and training, modernized and expanded their role at the workplace, and in many situations have emerged as the central key figure involved in delivering high quality occupational health services to the working populations of Europe. Occupational health nurses, working independently or as part of a larger multiprofessional team, are at the frontline in helping to protect and promote the health of working populations.

Download the document