Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines


For the detailed discussion of evidence and framework, please consult the full guideline, available for download at

Organization Practice Recommendations

1.0  Organizations/nursing employers create and design environments and systems that promote safe and healthy workplaces, including such strategies as:

  • Creating a culture, climate and practices that support, promote and maintain staff health, well-being and safety.
  • Ensuring that the organization’s annual budget includes adequate resources (human and fiscal) to implement and evaluate health and safety initiatives.
  • Establishing organizational practices that foster mutual responsibility and accountability by individual nurses and organizational leaders to ensure a safe work environment.

     1.1  Organizations/nursing employers create work environments where human and fiscal resources match the demands of the work environment.

     1.2  Organizations/nursing employers implement a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety Management System, based on the applicable legislation, regulations and best practice guidelines.

2.0  Organizations/nursing employers are aware of the impact of organizational changes (such as restructuring and downsizing) on the health, safety and well-being of nurses and be responsible and accountable for implementing appropriate supportive measures.

     2.1  Organizations/nursing employers form partnerships and work with researchers to conduct evaluations of specific interventions aimed at improving nurses’ health and well-being.

3.0  Organizations/nursing employers implement and maintain education and training programs aimed at increasing awareness of health and safety issues for nurses. (e.g. safe-lift initiative, employee rights under OSHA, hazard awareness, etc.).

     3.1  Organizations/nursing employers provide ongoing training and education programs to ensure staff possess the knowledge to recognize, evaluate, and control or eliminate hazardous work situations.
     3.2  Organizations/nursing employers employ qualified individuals with knowledge and expertise in health and safety, policy and legislative requirements to lead training and education programs.
     3.3  Organizations/nursing employers promote and support initiatives related to the physical and mental health and well-being of the nurse. This includes, but is not limited to, fitness programs, health promotion and wellness activities, and fitness-to-work initiatives.
     3.4  Organizations/nursing employers provide nurses with opportunities for personal, professional and spiritual development with regard to healthy work environments, professional competencies and work/life balance.

4.0  Workplace health and safety best practices be embedded/integrated across all sectors of the health care system.

     4.1  Organizations/nursing employers engage in knowledge transfer activities that promote best practices regarding the health, safety and well-being of nurses.
     4.2  Organizations/nursing employers support and contribute to the development of health and safety indicators at the local, provincial and national level to assist in data collection and comparable analysis across the health care sector.
     4.3  Organizations/nursing employers develop standardized databases for sharing best practices related to nurse health, safety and well-being.

Education Recommendations (Consult the full guideline at for detailed education recommendations, pg. 49 - 51)

5.0  Nursing education institutions model the integration of health, safety and well-being into their own workplace culture.

Systems Recommendations

6.0  Governing/accreditation bodies incorporate the Organization Practice Recommendations from this RNAO Healthy Work Environments Best Practice Guideline in their quality health and safety standards for health care service and education organizations.