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What is workplace health promotion?

Workplace health promotion has been defined in many ways and has been linked to other workplace health strategies over the years.  It has been called at various times health promotion in the workplace, workplace health promotion, workplace wellbeing, maintenance of work ability for example.

Regardless of the label, there is a common thread running through these approaches – taking action to address general health issues within the workplace.  These are usually related to the major public health concerns about lifestyle – exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and increasingly mental health issues.  In some cases, these actions are limited to the issue at hand, with no obvious relationship to health and safety actions in the workplace.  Here the workplace is used as just one more setting to implement public health campaigns.

In other cases however, there are also more integrated approaches such as the maintenance of work ability programme in Finland, where occupational health, health and safety and health promotion actions are delivered in a single programme.

The Luxembourg Declaration of the ENWHP takes such an integrated approach when it states that:

Workplace health promotion is the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and wellbeing of people at work. This can be achieved through a combination of:

–      Improving work organisation and the work environment

–      Promoting active participation

–      Encouraging personal development

This definition of WHP contains a number of important principles.  It should include actions directed at both the workplace and the individual, it should be participative and that it seeks to develop the individual worker.  It also notes that it is the responsibility of three stakeholders to implement – workers, employers and also external agencies such as public health authorities.

You can find the full text of the Luxembourg Declaration here:

 http://www.enwhp.org/fileadmin/rs-dokumente/dateien/Luxembourg_Declaration.pdf

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