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3 key areas for better workplace health management

We’ve captured best practices for optimizing three key occupational health programs that support preventative care in the workplace:

  1. Employee wellness programs
  2. Flu vaccination programs
  3. Emergency preparedness & planning

Occupational health services provide onsite primary care to employees with two main goals:

  1. Managing employee health costs, and
  2. Increasing productivity while minimizing absenteeism

The Occupational Health & Workplace Safety Services industry has grown 2.3% in the last 5 years, reaching a total revenue of $7 billion in 2018.1 Increased emphasis on workplace regulations and safety preparation have contributed to this growth.

To address this demand, we turned to the professionals at AAOHN 2019 and gathered insights into three key areas that together can support occupational health programs and preventative care in the workplace.

1 | Employee wellness programs


Every workplace demographic is different, but employee behavior can be a driving factor in wellness. Unhealthy habits such as smoking, poor food choices and general disinterest in healthy living can have an impact on employee population health. Other influencing factors include age demographics and employees who tend to be resistant to change.

Potential solutions:

  • Provide incentives to get screenings – some companies offer up to $1,000 for a simple biometric screening
  • Host a lunch & learn to educate employees on the long-term benefits of wellness programs
  • Develop an employee resource group dedicated to wellness initiatives
  • Team up with on-site food service providers to incorporate healthy options and provide nutritional values to influence behavior change
  • Host an employee cook-off where teams cook healthy traditional foods from their heritage. This is a great way to educate employees on healthy multicultural options


More companies are beginning to realize the benefits of offering health, wellness and fitness programs at work to provide a more holistic approach to healthcare. Employee wellness programs are a great way to keep employees healthy and on the job.

2 | Flu vaccination programs


Some of the biggest challenges occupational health nurses face when it comes to flu vaccinations include difficulty staffing and scheduling due to shift changes and struggles with compliance.

18% of adults get their flu shot in the workplace.2

Potential solutions:

  • Offer a mobile or rotating flu clinic that brings the clinic to the employees for better compliance
  • Provide offers for employees to get the flu vaccine from their physician under the company’s insurance coverage
  • Collaborate with your communications team to educate employees about why flu vaccination is important, and reference CDC recommendations


Free on-site flu vaccinations are a huge employee benefit. Not only is it a convenient option, but it helps reduce the number of potential sick days come flu season.


Emergency preparedness is increasingly important. Multicultural news or local events can affect the workplace. Many companies are staffed with aging security guards who don’t carry weapons and are often not prepared to act in an emergency. Other organizations don’t have an emergency plan at all.

Potential solutions:

  • Develop a hazard vulnerability report to identify risk potential and level of preparedness to prioritize areas for improvement; analyze your bomb, severe weather and active shooter threats to start
  • Partner with your internal emergency response and safety team or with your local BERT (Business Emergency Response Team) to do training, certifications, and drills on site
  • Petition to get lights and emergency call buttons added to parking lots, as well as metal detectors, cameras and AEDs across campus; connect with local police to get this enacted


While occupational health nurses are not always involved in the emergency preparedness planning process, collaboration provides an overall benefit to the entire organization. Safety and Health Services can be separate departments but should work together because they need one another to be successful.

1: IBIS World Corp Wellness and Occupational Health and Safety Reports, April 2018

The information gathered in this article was collected from a focus group of occupational health experts from across the country during the 2019 American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Conference. During this focus group, participants discussed how they are managing and preventing health issues in the workplace, and their solutions to the unique challenges they face.

Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.

© 2019 McKesson Medical-Surgical, Inc.