Chapter 7: The Human – As a biological system

Chapter 7: The Human - As a biological system


To be able to provide appropriate advice on the effects of hazards on workers’ health and to competently assess the potential impacts of changes in the workplace, the generalist OHS professional requires a working knowledge of the physiology of the human body. After a brief history of the association of workplace exposures with worker health and wellbeing, this chapter presents an overview of the biological systems of the human body. Two case studies – featuring the nervous system and the integumentary system – provide examples of the application of physiological knowledge in the OHS context.

Keywords: nervous system, respiratory system, endocrine system, reproductive system, digestive system, skin, musculoskeletal

First year of publication: 2012

Current Version: 2012 – Under Review

Chapter 7: The Human - As a biological system

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Historical perspective
3 Biological systems of the body
4 Human variability
5 Routes of exposure
6 Case studies
6.1 Scenario 1: Nervous system
6.2 Scenario 2: Integumentary system
7 Implications for OHS practice
8 Summary

Dr Kelly Johnstone BAppSc(OHS), BHSc(Hons), PhD, CPMSIA
Senior Lecturer OHS, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland

Kelly is an academic at the University of Queensland. She has been a practising OHS professional for 12 years and has worked as an external OHS consultant. Kelly’s research in the area of occupational health and hygiene has focused on indoor air quality and agricultural workers’ exposure to pesticides.

Dr Keith Adam MB, BS, FAFOEM
Adjunct Associate Professor University of Queensland and Senior Occupational Physician Medibank Health Solutions

Keith has practiced a specialist occupational physician and been a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for over 20 years. Having established a specialist occupational medical practice in Brisbane he is retained as a consultant by a number of companies in the mining and transport sectors

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.)