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"The WHO definition of a healthy workplace" (WHO, 2010)

Updated: Jan 2

Protect and Promote Health, SAFETY & Wellbeing of all workers (WHO. 2010).

Healthy workplaces: a model for action For employers, workers, policy-makers and practitioners

The WHO definition of a healthy workplace is as follows:

“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.” In line with this, the definition of a healthy workplace that was developed in the consultations that took place around this document, is as follows: A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs:  health and safety concerns in the physical work environment;  health, safety and well-being concerns in the psychosocial work environment, including organization of work and workplace culture;  personal health resources in the workplace; and  ways of participating in the community to improve the health of workers, their families and other members of the community. This definition reflects how understanding of occupational health has evolved from an almost exclusive focus on the physical work environment to inclusion of psychosocial and personal health practice factors. The workplace is increasingly being used as a setting for health promotion and preventive health activities – not only to prevent occupational injury, but to assess and improve people's overall health. Another increasing emphasis is on workplaces that are supportive and accommodating of older workers and those with chronic diseases or disabilities.


A healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs:  health and safety concerns in the physical work environment;  health, safety and well-being concerns in the psychosocial work environment including organization of work and workplace culture;  personal health resources in the workplace; and  ways of participating in the community to improve the health of workers, their families and other members of the community. Chapter 4 examines the complex interrelationships between and among work, the physical and mental health of workers, the community, and the health of the enterprise and society. This is a key chapter that supports with hard scientific evidence both the ethical case for a healthy workplace and the business case. It begins to flesh out the details of which factors under the control of employers and workers affect the health, safety and well-being of WHO Healthy Workplace Framework and Model: Background Document and Supporting Literature and Practices Executive Summary workers and the success of an enterprise. These factors provide the primary basis for the framework.

To create a healthy workplace, an enterprise needs to consider the avenues or arenas of influence where actions can best take place and the most effective processes by which employers and workers can take action. According to the model described here, developed through systematic literature and expert review, four key areas can be mobilized or influenced in healthy workplace initiatives:  the physical work environment;  the psychosocial work environment;  personal health resources;  enterprise involvement in the community.



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