Use this info to plan programs

Susan A. Randolph, MSN, RN, COHN-S, FAAOHN, clinical assistant professor of the Occupational Health Nursing Program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that you should plan occupational health programs and services with these factors in mind:

*Your worker population, based on demographic data and health status. Consider the number of men and women, age range, the number of older workers, and the number of women in their childbearing years.

Then consider typical health issues, based on your population data. "You can use leading causes of death or health risk factors," says Randolph. These may be heart disease, hypertension, stress, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, use of tobacco products, physical activity and exercise, cancer, or cholesterol.

* Work environment. Consider the processes and products, exposures and hazards, and the characteristics of the work itself. "Do worksite walkthrough observations," says Randolph.

* The philosophy of your employer toward health. For example, does the company support primary prevention, secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention?

* Pertinent statutes, regulations, and rules.

"Programs and services should be targeted to meet the needs of the worker population, and targeted to reduce top cost drivers," she says. Randolph says to use this data to plan and develop programs:

--OSHA 300 logs indicating the types of injuries and illnesses seen;

--Workers' compensation claims;

--Population indicators;

--Insurance data;

--Cost data on lost time, health care, and workers' compensation;

--Health risk appraisals;

--Material Safety Data Sheets.

* Available community resources. These include the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, and state and local health departments.

* Discussions with workers and management. "What programs do people want and why?" asks Randolph. "Is there an employee-based committee to provide input into wellness programs?"