Healthy Settings

Types of Healthy Settings

Healthy Workplaces

Working women
The World Bank/Anvar Ilyasov

With the global trend of increasing hours spent at the workplace over recent decades, the importance of protecting and promoting health at the workplace is becoming pivot to a fully functioning global economy. The programme aims to improve public health conditions and awareness through multisectoral cooperation and to directly involve the workers and employers in introducing a health-promoting culture at the workplace.

Workplace health has taken on renewed impetus after the 60th World Health Assembly in 2007, which endorsed the WHO Global Plan of Action on Workers' Health 2008-2017. The Plan stipulates the need to address all aspects of workers' health, including primary prevention of occupational hazards, protection and promotion of health at work, and improved response from health systems to workers' health. Additionally, focus is placed on the establishment of specific guidelines for health services and surveillance mechanisms for health, environmental, and disease hazards.

Examples of implementation
Working men
The World Bank/Thomas Sennett

Several fundamental principles underpin action on workers' health. First, the workplace should not be detrimental to health and well-being. Second, priority should be given to prevention of occupational health hazards over treatment and rehabilitation. Furthermore, an integrated response to the specific health needs of working populations should encompass all components of health systems and all representatives of the workplace community.

At the regional level, the WHO European and Western Pacific Regions have the most solidified networks for research, distribution, and corroboration. The WHO European Region initiative for Management of Health, Safety and the Environment in Enterprises (HESME) provides a framework linking healthy workplace activities to interventions promoting human and environmental health. The WHO Western Pacific Region has developed regional guidelines for healthy workplaces that were successfully implemented in several countries. In the Americas, Canada, has also etched out a solid programme notable for its integrated approach to tackling the major components of a healthy workplace programme (physical environment, psycho-social work conditions, and health behaviours of individual workers).

  • European Union Network (27 member states plus EEA)
  • WHO Western Pacific Regional Network for Health Promoting Workplaces (11 participating countries)
Selected publications
  • Burton J. (2006) Creating Healthy Workplaces. Industrial Accident Prevention Association.
  • Chu et al. (2000) Health-promoting workplaces - International settings development. Health Promotion international. 15(2): 155-167.