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Occupational health nursing

Occupational health nursing

Occupational health nurses work in a variety of settings mainly industry, health services, commerce and education. They can be employed as independent practitioners or as part of an occupational health service team, often attached to a personnel or HR department.

Occupational health nurses are considered to be leaders in public health in the workplace setting. The occupational health nurse role includes:

  • the prevention of health problems, promotion of healthy living and working conditions
  • understanding the effects of work on health and health at work
  • basic first aid and health screening
  • workforce and workplace monitoring and health need assessment
  • health promotion
  • education and training
  • counselling and support
  • risk assessment and risk management.
Useful experience

You will usually need to be a registered nurse before applying for occupational health posts.

There are a number of different skills and experience that would be helpful in getting a job in occupational health:

  • experience of working in accident and emergency and/or practice nursing
  • learning about relevant legislation
  • management of sickness absence
  • development of manual handling policies and rehabilitation of staff with chronic conditions
  • undertaking a role as an RCN safety representative 

Applying for a post within a large occupational health service should enable you to gain adequate supervision and support, which is necessary for a first post in a different setting.


Knowledge of health promotion and education is desirable as well as an understanding of health and safety issues, health screening stress management and basic first aid.

Membership of the RCN public health nursing forum can provide a useful means of keeping up to date with current developments. Also attending occupational health conferences can provide the ideal opportunity to network with nurses currently working within this field.

Job vacancies

Most NHS organisations advertise vacancies for occupation health nurses through NHS Jobs.