Occupational Health Advisors play a crucial role in maintaining the health, wellbeing and safety of employees.
Allison O’Connor, Terri Brydon and Kim Clee have more than 90 years of nursing experience between them and, as Norbord’s three UK-site Occupational Health Advisors, they are putting their knowledge to good use by providing a range of services to help keep employees safe and well at work.
Occupational Health (OH) Nursing is a specialist field and differs from the traditional role of a nurse in a GP surgery or hospital as practitioners have a greater awareness of the hazards and risks to health in all types of employment. They not only maintain the health and wellbeing of employees in an organisation but also focus on promoting a safe environment in the workplace.
Terri, based at Norbord’s plant in Inverness, Scotland explains: “Our primary role is about prevention and early intervention. It is important that someone comes to us before a medical issue becomes too serious.”
The OH team’s role encompasses a wide range of services which include pre-employment medicals, routine employee health surveillance, undertaking health assessment referrals from managers, teaching first aiders and running health promotional activities, as well as sitting on various committees.
Absence management is another important role of an OH nurse to help facilitate the rapid recovery of an employee from an illness or accident to returning to work.
Allison, who is based at the company’s Cowie plant, said: “We are now proactively managing absence – rather than just reporting it – and working with the employee while they are off work to signpost them quickly to services to assist their recovery.
Terri said that the role of the OH nurse is to look after the interests of both the employee and the company, but primarily the employee. She explained: “We sit on the line between the employee and the company. We are here to ensure the company operates within employee legislation and to also make sure employees remain well and do not come to any harm from their work – and that’s good for both sides.”
Kim, who joined Norbord in January 2017 and is based at the South Molton, Devon plant, has been busy undertaking a health surveillance programme for the 300 employees at the site. Kim said: “My role here at South Molton is all about being proactive in health promotion/prevention and that is why the health surveillance programme is so important in order to spot things early, such as hearing loss or a deterioration in breathing.”
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