The possibility of certification of occupational health nurses had been investigated for several years.  In 1969, the American Association of Industrial Nurses formed a committee called the Inter Organization Committee for the Certification of Occupational Health Nurses to investigate and recommend a course of action regarding certification.  Upon hearing the Inter Organization Committee's recommendation, the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) was established on May 21, 1971.  The joint committee was composed of representatives from the American Association of Industrial Nurses (AAIN), American Academy of Occupational Medicine (AAOM), Industrial Medical Association (IMA), American Industrial Hygiene Association, (AIHA) and the Advisory Council of the American Association Industrial Nurses.

The initial funding for the organization was received from the American Association of Industrial Nurses.  The amount given to the ABOHN organization was $9,000. These funds were repaid in the following years to AAIN.  Many other organizations contributed to the establishment of ABOHN. The following companies provided funding for the newly established organization:

American Can Company Allis Chalmers Corporation Bausch & Lomb
Burlington Industries Campbell Soup Exxon Corporation
Ford Motor Compamy General Electric Corporation Hercules International
IBM International Telephone & Telegraph Metropolitan Life
Mobil Oil Pfizer, Inc. Olin Corporation
Reynolds Metal Scott Paper Company Shell Oil
Standard Oil Upjohn Company U.S. Steel

The joint committee selected twelve occupational health nurses for the organizing board.   The committee based their selection on education, work experience and evidence of occupational health nurses contribution to occupational health nursing.   These names are now legendary in the Occupational Health Nursing field.

Marguerite Ahern Graff Dorothy Benning Marilyn Blakenship Marie Carrell
Anita Harris Jeanne Healy Edna May Klutas Jane A. Lee
Ann Murphy Iva Edward Pleasants Marjorie Schmidt Sara Wagner


The following information contains the chronological history of ABOHN, summarizing highlights of the organization's development and accomplishments.


  • Twelve occupational health nurses were selected to become the organizing board for the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses.
  • The first meeting took place on May 21, 1971.
  • Marguerite Ahern Graff selected as the first Chair.


  • ABOHN incorporated in the State of New York as a not-for-profit business league.
  • First meeting of the corporation held on May 26, 1972.
  • Applications accepted for Founders Status (certified by portfolio instead of examination).


  • Draft of first certification examination developed.
  • 983 occupational health nurses certified as Founders of ABOHN.
  • Marjorie D. Schmidt (a former Board member) hired as the first Executive Secretary.


  • First certification examination given on April 29, 1974, in Bal Harbour, Florida.
  • 92 candidates sat for the first examination; 82 were successful.

1975 - 1977

  • ABOHN, the American Nurses Association, and the American Association of Industrial Nurses (now AAOHN) held a summit meeting and issued a joint statement.
  • After Marjorie Schmidt's resignation, Mayrose Snyder was named the second ABOHN Executive Secretary.

1978 - 1979

  • First recertification procedures developed.
  • First ABOHN Directory of Certified Occupational Health Nurses was published.

1980 - 1982

  • Mayrose Snyder became the first Executive Director for ABOHN.
  • First ABOHN newsletter published in March of 1981.
  • Mary Louise Brown dedicated her book, Occupational Health Nursing: Principles and Practice's, to ABOHN.

1983 - 1984

  • Original ABOHN logo copyrighted.
  • First full role delineation study conducted.

1985 - 1986

  • Reciprocity established with Canada for certification recognition.
  • ABOHN records computerized for the first time.

1987 - 1989

  • ABOHN Incorporated in the State of Illinois
  • Mayrose Snyder announced plans to retire; Charlene Ossler selected as the new ABOHN Executive Director, taking office in 1989.
  • The first Mayrose Snyder Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing award given to Georgia Knuth at the 1989 AOHC in Boston. 

1990 - 1991

  • Commitment to baccalaureate degree by 1995 made.
  • ABOHN adopted AAOHN's definition of occupational health nursing and standards of practice.

1992 - 1993

  • ABOHN certification approved by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS).
  • ABOHN Research Award established.
  • Eligibility requirement for work experience changed from five years to 5,000 hours.


  • OHNA Board established to look at creating a credential for OHNs without a degree.
  • A position statement was issued on the case management qualifications of the COHN. 
  • Ann M. Lachat was hired as the Director of Support Services and the ABOHN office was moved to the Chicago area.


  • Established a two-credential program designed to meet the needs of the non-degreed population.  COHN and COHN-Specialist (COHN-S) credentials were established.
  • Record breaking numbers (1,260) took the 1995 examination.
  • Sharon Kemerer hired as Executive Director.


  • The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) accredited the COHN-S examination.
  • ABOHN was privileged to participate in the International Congress of Occupational Health (ICOH) held in Stockholm, Sweden. 


  • ABOHN celebrated its Silver Anniversary.  The theme for the anniversary was 25 Years of Credentialing Excellence.
  • The COHN board developed the Marguerite Ahern Graff Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing award.  The award was developed to honor the dedication and tireless efforts by Marguerite Ahern Graff to establish a certification program. 


  • ABOHN entered into the information age in January, when a website was developed and established at www.abohn.org
  • The Board of Directors voted to establish a case management specialty credential.

1999 - 2000

  • First meeting of the Case Management Panel of Experts met.
  • A new certificate and ABOHN pin was developed for the case management credential holders.
  • The Board of Directors decided to maintain the degree requirements for the COHN-S exam at its present level.  Examination outlines were reconstructed in keeping with the research finding from the role delineation study. 


  • The American Board for Nursing Specialties (ABNS) renewed the COHN-S accreditation and accredited the COHN examination.
  • Mary Salazar and Ann Lachat represented ABOHN at the Royal College of Nursing Occupational Health Conference in Nottingham, England.  They presented the Results of the National Job Analysis/Role Delineation Study. 
  • Mary C. Amann was named Executive Director.


  • ABOHN celebrated our 30th anniversary at the American Occupational Health Conference.
  • Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and ABOHN agreed that the Reciprocity agreement was mutually beneficial and that it should remain in place essentially unchanged.


  • The COHN examination was given in Puerto Rico as a pilot study to qualified OHNs.
  • The Certification Self-Assessment Tests (CSATs) for both the COHN and COHN-S examinations were developed.
  • NOCA acknowledged accreditation of the COHN, COHN-S and Case Management examinations by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).


  • The first manuscript authored by a Japanese researcher, using the ABOHN 2000 Practice Analysis survey which described the role delineation study done in Japan, was published. 
  • The new Safety Management credential SM was established for certified occupational health nurses in conjunction with BCSP.
  • Georgia M. Knuth was selected as the new Executive Director in December.


  • The first Safety Management exam was given in June.
  • Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) was notified that it was the selected testing vendor for ABOHN examinations. 


  • After providing more than ten (10) years of devoted clerical services, Esther Cusack reluctantly retired in February.
  • Held the last ABOHN paper and pencil examinations in October 2006.


  • On March 1, Computer Based Testing (CBT) for the COHN, COHN-S and CM examinations began.
  • Ann M. Lachat was selected as the new Executive Director of ABOHN at the Board of Directors meeting.


  • The first Case Management CSAT was developed.
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Status program recognizes occupational health nurses.


  • A new exhibit was presented at the AAOHN Symposium and Exposition.
  • Joined with the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense program of "Let's Get Certified Campaign."


  • The Board of Directors commences work on the new Practice Analysis.
  • ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) recognizes the COHN-S credentail as a qualification for Professional Member Status.


  • The "Let's Get Certified" campaign is held in Puerto Rico.
  • ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) recognizes the COHN credential as a qualification for Professional Member Status.
  • Work continues on the Practice Analysis - the return rates surpassed expectations with a response rate of 41%.


  • ABOHN celebrates is 40th anniversary at the AAOHN conference in Nashville, TN.
  • Exams, blueprints and handbooks are revised based on the results from the 2011 Practice Analysis.
  • Ann Lachat and Pamela Hart deliver the 2011 Practice Analysis results at the FOHNEU conference in Tarragona, Spain.


  • ABOHN changed to a Yearly Renewal system in January 2013.
  • ABOHN retired the Safety Management (SM) Credential.
  • ABOHN worked with Mary Partridge of Impact Consulting to update our "living" strategic plan.


  • ABOHN CEO Ann Lachat celebrated her 20th anniversary with ABOHN.
  • ABOHN completed the "Career Guide for Occupational Health Nursing." 
  • The Board changed the name of the Mayrose Snyder Excellence in Occupational Health Award to the Deborah L Fischer Gibbon Excellence in Occupational Health Award..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


  • ABOHN CEO Ann Lachat retired August 1, 2015 after 21 years of service.  
  • The Board changed the name of the Margarette Ahern Graf Excellence in Occupational Health Award (COHN) to the Ann M. Lachat Excellence in Occupational Health Award.
  • Denise Knoblauch hired as Executive Director



  • ABOHN started using Constant Contact as a weekly forum to keep connected with our credential holders.
  • The wallet cards were replaced by new technology, Digital Badging, which showcases more information on the specific credential.
  • ABOHN revised  the Employer brochures to accurately reflect the roles of OHNs in business.
  • ABOHN's website went through another round of update, including adding a section for Employers and Job Postings



  •   The January 2017 Board of Directors meeting was held in San Diego, CA at Paradise Point. Elected to the Board starting in June 2017 were Melinda Harrison, Daurice Holly, and Pamela Swann.  
  •   Retiring from the Board in June 2017 are Jennylynn Balmer, Paula Clay, and Paula Kerns.   The following individuals and one business were given awards for the highest score and Employer Recognition at the ABOHN Awards ceremony held April 25 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA:
    •    COHN                Lauren Harris
    •   COHN-S            Donna Wolf
    •    CM                  Candy Wright
    •   Business Award        Northwell Health
      •    Jennylynn Balmer and Denise Knoblauch presented on the “Value of Certification”   
      • Lucy Carlson presented a poster on the Value of Certification
  • The June 2017 Board of Directors meeting was held in Oak Brook, IL at Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus. Elected to the governing council, the following individuals assumed office at the June Business meeting:
    •    Chair: Wanda Smiling
    •    Secretary: Michele Willis
    •    Treasurer: Noreen Olson
    •   COHN-S chair: Bev Hagar
    •   COHN chair: Jean Drevdahl-Orchard
    •   CM chair: Lucy Carlson  
  • The Financial Audit has been completed by Bansley & Kiener.  
  • We completed our annual report for 2017 for the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) application.