A Risk Sciences International glossary definition (Last modifed: December 15, 2023)

occupational health

« Back to Glossary Index

Occupational health is a multidisciplinary field of healthcare that focuses on the well-being and safety of employees in the workplace. This domain encompasses various elements, including the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries, the promotion of healthier working environments, and the improvement of employees’ general health and well-being. Occupational health aims to identify and control the work-related factors that have an impact on health, including physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and psychosocial risks.

The concept has its origins in the industrial revolution, when rapid industrialization led to working conditions that were often unsafe and posed serious health risks to workers. Over time, governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses have recognized the need for standards and practices to ensure employee well-being, giving rise to legislation, guidelines, and specialized services catering to occupational health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines occupational health as “the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations by preventing departures from health, controlling risks and the adaptation of work to people, and people to their jobs.”

In a broader sense, occupational health is not just about the absence of physical illness but also includes emotional and mental health. This is increasingly recognized as crucial given the complex interplay between work life and personal life in the modern world.

In summary, occupational health aims to foster a safe and conducive work environment that minimizes risks and enables employees to be more productive and satisfied in their jobs. This involves a combination of preventive measures, educational initiatives, policy-making, and healthcare services specifically designed for the work setting.

« Back to Glossary Index