Occupational nurses play an important role in the workplace, especially in construction manufacturing industries. They can help employees stay healthy and productive, while also helping employers maintain a healthy work environment and manage costs.
“The nurse brings medical insight, as well as the trust factor,” said board certified occupational health nurse specialist Kathy Stevens, explaining nurses also convey calmness and provide organization in the workplace.
Stevens, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, owns Business Health Solutions, a leader in occupational and environmental health nursing and safety service. She started the company 14 years ago and is focused on investing in training and supporting the nurses she employs. The nurses are matched with a company and then work on-site.
While companies typically have a human resources department, environmental health and safety manager, and a maintenance or facilities manager, they don’t always have occupational nurses.
But those nurses can help companies manage absenteeism, and injury and illness rates, providing positive impacts on healthcare costs and employer liabilities. That gives companies a competitive edge in the marketplace.
“It’s more cost-effective and more efficient for operations overall,” said Stevens, who reminds companies that if an employee has to leave to get medical treatment, that means time off the job site.
Occupational nurses can help companies work toward the goal of zero lost time injuries or zero recordable injuries. For example, a nurse might be able to Steri-Strip an employee’s wound instead of sending that employee off-site to a clinic for stitches. It’s convenient and safe, plus it saves time and money.
Stevens encourages companies to compare their illness and injury numbers with the time and money spent managing those issues.
“If they see they have a lot of activity around injuries and illnesses where the management team is having to take a lot of time out of their day, then it’s time for a nurse,” she said.
Whether a nurse is giving an employee over-the-counter medicine for a headache, administering flu shots, or helping manage FMLA and short-term disability paperwork, the healthcare professional is a worthy investment for a company.
“You have to create a culture where people feel that their safety and their well-being is No. 1,” Stevens said.