Occupational health nurse

Occupational health nurses are leaders of public health and care in the workplace. They specialise in the care and well-being of people at work.

Occupational health nurses are qualified and registered nurses, many of whom have chosen to gain additional training and qualifications as specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN - OHN). Their additional training in public health enables them to assess the health needs of individuals, families and the wider community to promote good health and prevent illness. 

To work as an occupational health nurse, you must be registered on part 1 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register. You may also be a registered midwife and on part 2 of the register. Occupational health technicians do not need to be registered as nurses. 


two nurses talking

Working life 

Occupational health nurses protect and promote the health of people at work. They have direct contact with employees and are often approached with health-related questions and problems. Employees often see their occupational health nurse as a 'first port of call' and seek advice on various matters, such as:

  • a non-work-related condition
  • where to get the best advice on a health issue or personal problem at home
  • health and safety at work

Your role will include:

  • identifying and preventing work-related health problems
  • promoting healthy living and working conditions
  • understanding the effects of work on health and of health on work
  • providing advice on first aid management 
  • providing health screening services
  • workforce and workplace monitoring and health needs assessments
  • health promotion
  • education and training
  • counselling and support
  • risk assessment and risk management
  • travel health

You may also carry out certain clinical tasks such as health surveillance, giving vaccinations and taking blood samples.

You will work closely with employees' line managers, human resource staff, and health and safety advisers to support good health at work. You may lead or work in a team alongside other occupational health professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists, counsellors, occupational psychologists, and mental health professionals. 

Where will I work? 

You’ll usually be employed as an independent practitioner in an organisation or as part of an occupational health service team in an organisation's human resources department.

You could work in a variety of industries including health, education, law firms or airlines. You could be employed by a large organisation or company such as an NHS trust, local authority or major retail chain. Some occupational health nurses establish their own businesses.

Entry requirements 

You will need to be a registered adult, child, learning disability or mental health nurse to apply for occupational health nursing posts. You may also choose to take an approved programme in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Occupational Health Nursing (SCPHN - OHN). The requirements for entry to SCPHN - OHN programmes are very flexible and no minimum period of post-registration work experience is required. 

Applying for a job within a large occupational health service should help you gain adequate supervision and support. This is especially important for a first job in an occupational health.

To secure your first post in occupational health nursing, some knowledge or experience of the following would be helpful: 

  • working in accident and emergency nursing, practice nursing, or both
  • public health, infection control
  • counselling, psychological health
  • 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

Want to learn more?

Want to come back?

If your SCPHN registration has lapsed then you may need to complete a return to practice programme. Email us so that we can put you in touch with someone in your local area who can offer tailored advice.  

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