AAOHN, OSHA form alliance

As part of a growing trend of increased partnering by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Atlanta-based American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc. (AAOHN) and OSHA signed an alliance at the 2003 American Occupational Health Conference in Atlanta.

The goals of the new alliance will be to promote healthy and safe workplaces, with a focus on emergency management, musculoskeletal disorders, and workplace violence. AAOHN officials noted this alliance will be unique from other recently announce alliances, in that those alliances primarily focus on ergonomics.

"We started our focus on ergonomics, but decided to broaden the alliance to encompass the other two areas because both are such priorities for employers right now, and because occupational health nurses have so much to offer employers in these areas," said Deborah V. DiBenedetto, MBA, RN, COHN-S/CM, ABDA, outgoing AAOHN president.

"This alliance provides a unique opportunity to work with occupational safety and health professionals working on the front lines to address workplace violence, ergonomics, and other safety and health issues," added OSHA administrator John Henshaw. "By working together with AAOHN, we can achieve a greater impact in improving workplace safety and health and reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities."

Specific goals of the alliance include:

  • disseminating health and safety information and guidance through meetings, conferences and other events;
  • encouraging AAOHN chapters to build relationships with OSHA’s regional and area offices to address health and safety issues within the alliance’s three key areas;
  • encouraging AAOHN chapters to act as resources for OSHA’s Training Institute and education centers to assist in the promotion and presentation of health and safety courses;
  • raising awareness of and demonstrating commitment to improving the health and safety of the work force;
  • convening or participating in forums, roundtable discussions, or stakeholder meetings about the three topical areas of the alliance;
  • encouraging AAOHN’s members to act as industry liaisons and resources for OSHA’s cooperative programs and compliance assistance specialists.

"What will be especially unique about this alliance is the fact that we will be offering assistance to small businesses through participation in Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, and so forth," DiBenedetto tells Occupational Health Management. "We will provide them with information on managing health and safety, on OSHA resources, and letting them tell us about the resources they need." This strategy will be especially helpful for those businesses that do not have an on-site occ-med professional, she notes.