American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Unveils 2005 Public Policy Platform

Preventing workplace violence and improving the quality of the work environment for nurses are among the top policy priorities of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) in 2005, according to its public policy platform released Jan. 31.

Although many issues in AAOHN's platform have carried over from 2004, the professional association says those issues have been refined to better reflect the unique role of occupational and environmental health nurses in contributing to healthful and safe work and community environments.

On of the top items on the association's agenda, according to AAOHN President Susan A. Randolph, will be to "notably increase public policy efforts related to health promotion, disease prevention and wellness."

"One of our major goals in this arena is to help secure legislation that will reward employers for implementing employee health and wellness programs," Randolph said in a news release. "In doing so, we are addressing some of the most critical issues facing the workplace -- the need to improve employee health and therefore reduce health care costs. OHNs have always taken a lead role in managing this challenge, so we hope to heighten visibility and awareness for these issues in a public policy context."

Efforts to remedy the nursing shortage

AAOHN will again be focusing public policy efforts on the nursing shortage, and this year's platform champions strategies to specifically improve the quality of the work environment for health care workers. In order to retain nurses and recruit new nurses, AAOHN supports a number of initiatives that focus on strategies to foster safe and healthful work environments for nurses and all health care professionals.

"Many of the current efforts surrounding the nursing shortage involve a pipeline approach of addressing salaries, funding, training and education to recruit more people to the profession," Randolph said. "While AAOHN supports this approach, we also recognize that much of the current problem is rooted in retaining nurses once they're employed. To do this effectively, we have to provide for a healthier, safer work environment in hospitals, clinics or any place where nurses and other health care professionals are employed."

Workplace violence prevention is another issue remaining on the platform this year. As in the past, AAOHN recognizes the need for education and training so that management and employees can react appropriately to a violent situation. AAOHN is working to address the issue of workplace violence by supporting the implementation of an outreach program that will provide prevention techniques to businesses.

Other key policy issues on the 2005 platform include support for the confidentiality of health information, promotion of the nurse licensure compact and all-hazard preparedness.

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