Get to Know: Kelly Nichols, Occupational Health Nurse

At Hydro, keeping people safe and healthy is as important as keeping the lights on for our customers. We want each and every employee to go home safely to their families at the end of every day. Kelly is an Occupational Health Nurse and she combines her knowledge of health and the business to create a workplace that keeps employees’ health, wellness and safety at the heart of everything we do. 

What is your role at Hydro?

I’m an Occupational Health Nurse (OHN) and I’ve been working with Hydro’s Human Resources team for about 2 years. As an OHN, I bring a unique skill set to support employee safety, health & wellness through the administration of various health programs. Things like, management of sick leave programs (Early & Safe Return to Work and Attendance Support), injury prevention programs (hearing conservation, ergonomics, manual handling), and employee wellness initiatives (Wellness Works and Corporate Mental Health). I work closely with our Safety Team to ensure compliance with legislation and other programs and develop many policies and procedures related to these programs.

How long have you been an Occupational Health Nurse? 

I have been an Occupational Health Nurse for 19 years in various roles. I started my career in occupational health as a Nurse Practitioner on an offshore platform which provided invaluable field experience. I have been involved in things like injury response, risk assessment, and training programs for response teams.  Before coming to Hydro I worked an Occupational Health Solutions company and was an account manager for Hydro, so I was fortunate to get to travel extensively to Hydro’s sites and meet many of the great people before even beginning work here.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

Working with and travelling to meet employees from all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador always keeps things interesting. Of course, rural areas have different challenges than the urban areas and some of these challenges can be related to limited health care resources in smaller communities.

What is something you wish more people knew about the work you do?

I often wonder if employees understand the full reach of our services. Employees know us well for follow-up during leave but may not know that we also manage many other occupational health programs in conjunction with the safety team.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

People and roles are always changing, so refreshing information and training on the various occupational health programs so that policies and procedures are adhered to can be challenging.  Programs are always more successful when both employees and supervisors know their respective roles.

What drives you to succeed? 

In 2018 I developed and rolled out the Attendance Support Program at Hydro. The program was quickly adopted by management and employees and it is truly seen as a supportive program. In managing our sick leave programs, we are able to provide support to our employees on a daily basis and help them to navigate medical appointments when they may be dealing with stressful health situations. I am really proud of the work we’re doing – our work as OHN’s is so much easier when we have engagement and full support of our Executive, management and employees.