Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health

Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health


Along with ‘work’ and ‘safety’, ‘health’ is one of the global concepts of occupational health and safety (OHS) practice. This chapter explains how the concept of health expanded to include psychological health as well as physical health. It differentiates between the biomedical model that defines health negatively as ‘absence of disease’ and the biopsychosocial model that inspires positive health, linkage of ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing,’ and replacement of the traditionally dominant OHS safety paradigm with a holistic health paradigm inclusive of safety. After reviewing historical associations between work and health and examining the biopsychosocial approach and its compatibility with positive psychology 2.0, the chapter considers health in today’s workplace. It provides a conceptual model of workplace health that OHS professionals can adapt to their organisational circumstances and draws on the workplace impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to illustrate application of the model.

Keywords: Health, wellbeing, ill-health, work, workplace, disability, mental health, psychological health,
biopsychosocial model

Current Version: 2021

Chapter 6: Global Concept: Health

Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Definitions of health and occupational health
2 Associations between work and health
2.1 The safety paradigm
2.2 Development of a holistic health paradigm
3 A biopsychosocial approach to health
3.1 The biopsychosocial model
3.2 Positive psychology and positive health
4 Health in today’s workplace
4.1 International approaches to a healthy workplace
4.2 Psychosocial safety climate
4.3 An integrated model of workplace health
4.4 The role of OHS professionals in workplace health
5 Summary


Purchase the AUDIO chapter here through AIHS


David Beaumont MBChB, MFOM, FAFOEM
Director, Positive Medicine Ltd, New Zealand

David started his medical career in general practice in the UK before specialising in occupational medicine. A consultant occupational physician in New Zealand since 2006, David was President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from 2014 to 2016. His first book, Positive Medicine: Disrupting the Future of Medical Practice, is published by Oxford University Press.

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.)


3M Science of Safety Podcast: Ep 88:WorkSafe NZ Work-related Health strategy 
Work-related health acknowledges the interaction between a person’s work and their health, focussing on the way work could impact worker health and the way their health might influence safe work practices. WorkSafe NZ’s work-related health strategy aims to have fewer people experience work-related ill-health to achieve their vision of: Everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe.
Date: 2020
Presenters: Kerry Cheung


AIHS Video:  A lively discussion on Health:
Genevieve Hawkins interviews Dr David Beaumont, author of the OHS BoK chapter Global Concept: Health.
Genevieve and David explore the broad interpretation of health as proposed by the biopsychosocial model of health and how it applies in OHS practice.