Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health

Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health


The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” has existed unchanged for over 60 years. It has evolved to an understanding of the distinction between health protection, which aims for harm minimisation, and health promotion which aims to optimise health and well-being. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is based on a model of harm minimisation for injury prevention with a focus on control of environmental (work) risk factors. This chapter outlines important ideas which underpin the practice of occupational health through consideration of key definitions. Differences to safety science are emphasised. The scope of contemporary occupational health services is discussed. The traditional OHS model is straining as the burden of health in workplaces shifts to illness arising from chronic disease. Skills shortages are driving a renewed interest in workplace health promotion in Australia and elsewhere. New models and arrangements for occupational health are emerging. One which is reaching maturity is the integrated model in which occupational health and safety and workplace health promotion come together. A conceptual model recently developed by the National Institutes of Health and Centre for Disease Control is presented. Thus any discussion on roles in occupational health is taking place at a time when theory about workplace-based interventions for improving health outcomes is in a state of flux. The relative roles of a generalist OHS professional and specialists are briefly reviewed.

Keywords:health, health promotion, OHS, occupational health and safety, safety, work

Current Version: 2012

Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Key concepts and definitions
2.1 Health protection and health promotion
2.2 Injury, disease, illness and disability
2.3 Levels of prevention
2.4 Investigation for causation
3 Scope of occupational health
4 The future
5 Sources of occupational health expertise
5.1 Occupational physician
5.2 Occupational health nurses
5.3 Occupational hygienists
5.4 Ergonomists
5.5 Occupational rehabilitation providers
6 Summary

Professor Niki Ellis , MBBS, AFOEM, AFPHM Chief Executive Officer Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research, Monash University

Niki is an occupational and public health physician. Before coming to ISCRR she was the Foundation Director and Professor of the Centre of Military and Veterans’ Health at the University of Queensland. Earlier she spent a decade in the private sector after ten years work in government. She was the Inaugural President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was commissioned by Oxford University Press to write Work and Health: Management in Australia and New Zealand, and co-developed and presented a four-part television series for the ABC on occupational stress, her major research interest. She is a commissioner on the Federal Government’s Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15.)