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

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.)