When it comes to working wellness into your workforce, you want someone who knows the ins and outs of health promotion, and who can counsel employees and provide primary care – all within the context of the current regulatory and legal environment.
AAOHN’s survey reported that more than half of employees (61 percent) want
to receive health and wellness information from a health care professional,
such as a consultant or an onsite occupational health nurse (OHN), compared
to pamphlets or brochures (18 percent) or human resources staff (15 percent).
OHNs can develop, start and evaluate components of work site Employee Wellness
Programs such as testing initiatives, exercise/fitness courses, Stress Management
Programs, tobacco use cessation, nutrition and weight control initiatives, and
chronic illness management initiatives. Plus, OHNs can help employees navigate
through complicated health plans and may even serve as a triage point between
employees and their individual health care providers.
Employees might refrain from seeing their health care provider when it means
time away from work, inconvenient parking, waiting time in the office and co-pays.
In situations where employees are under treatment for chronic diseases like
heart disease, onsite nurses can routinely monitor risk factors such as blood
pressure or cholesterol on a regular basis.
It’s often easier for an staff member to ask an onsite nurse for information
about symptoms or prescription medication than it is to schedule a follow-up
visit to a individual health care provider. Benefits realized by employers include
improved staff member morale and retention, a recruitment advantage, raised
productivity and decreased time away from work.
In organizations with a safety department, the OHN can evaluate and address
work-related health issues, including participation in workstation evaluations
to correct potential ergonomic problems, and proactively addressing muscle strains
by developing stretching initiatives and involving employees in leading stretches.