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Occupational Health Nurses (OHNs) practice as clinical specialists, educators, administrators / managers, consultants, researchers, and disability case managers. The competency areas described in this document relate to OHNs practicing in diverse public and private sectors of industry and in private practice in Canada.


Nursing Practice Standards have been developed by the provincial regulator to ensure that all Registered Nurses provide nursing care that meets professional standards. As well as these practice standards, these standards apply to the Occupational Health Nursing practice across Canada. To meet these standards, OHNs must base their practice on specific knowledge, skills, and expertise, to demonstrate competency in their practice.


A recognized specialty area of nursing practice can define the competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) that are unique to the area of practice, and for which Registered Nurses need additional education and experience. This publication, Competencies for the Occupational Health Nurse, outlines areas which are in-scope for the Occupational Health Nursing practice in Canada. 


These competencies can form the basis for certification such as that offered through the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA). Competence can be defined as the integration of knowledge, abilities, skills, expertise, judgements, and experience unique to Occupational Health Nursing practice. Competencies are measurable, results oriented, and can be stated in behavioural terms.


The purpose of this document is to outline the roles and functions that may be required in Occupational Health Nursing practice in Canada. The following factors may influence the role and function of the OHN, the types of occupational health programs provided, and the competencies required by the OHN to deliver such programs:


  • the size of the organization.
  • the nature and type of the organization including the physical facilities, the process or service, and the demographics of the employee population.
  • the degree of hazard associated with the process or service.
  • management philosophies.
  • the legislated requirements.
  • the nature of the organizational culture.
  • the degree of access to community services and resources.
  • the access to medical facilities or physician support.

National Competencies for OHNs

Excluding GST/HST
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