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Integrating health, wellbeing and safety in the workplace

Good work health and safety systems can easily incorporate health and wellbeing risk management into existing policies and procedures, because the fundamental goals of work health are the same as work safety, for example:

  • controlling the risks to workers' health and safety
  • reducing illness and injury
  • retaining valuable skills
  • enhancing productivity
  • strengthening business outcomes.

Evidence shows that where work health initiatives and workplace health and safety programs are mutually reinforcing, workers are more likely to respond positively to the activities designed to encourage healthy behaviours and lifestyle change. (WorkSafe Victoria)

What the legislation says

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 defines health as both physical and psychological health.

Under the Act, both persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) and workers are responsible for ensuring health and safety in the workplace.

  • PCBUs have a duty of care under section 19 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers while they are at work.
  • PCBUs must provide and maintain a work environment without risks to the health of workers, or other persons affected by the conduct of the business or undertaking.
  • Workers also have a responsibility under section 28 to take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and to comply with reasonable safety instructions.

Managing the risks to health and wellbeing is therefore a shared responsibility.

By working together to manage the risks to health and wellbeing associated with work design or the workplace environment, both workers and PCBUs can meet this responsibility to ensure workers remain healthy and safe.

What an integrated work health, wellbeing and safety approach looks like

Awareness and knowledge

Include strategies designed to raise awareness and increase knowledge about health issues and work health initiatives on offer within the organisation and in the community.

Examples of complementary WHS activities:

  • integrate health promotion messages into tool box meetings
  • integrate health and wellbeing information into other health and safety communications
  • provide information about the interaction between health behaviours and relevant industry issues, such as fatigue management.

Behavioural and social

Include strategies that help workers develop skills that support and encourage healthy behaviours in the workplace and provide activities that specifically support management of these risk factors.

Examples of complementary WHS activities:

  • integrate health promotion messages into injury prevention and management (e.g. benefits of physical fitness for productive work)
  • ergonomically assess and review manual task procedures, practices and equipment
  • review return to work processes to ensure a holistic view of rehabilitation as part of a broader healthy lifestyle
  • provide personal health risk assessments and refer at risk workers to appropriate services and support.

Environmental

Include activities that lead to the establishment of a work environment that supports healthy choices and healthy behaviours.

Examples of complementary WHS activities:

  • remove cigarette vending machines and on-site smoking designated areas
  • provide adequate facilities for welfare of workers, including access to buy or prepare healthy food options
  • review industrial agreements e.g. long working hours may impact worker health either through increased risk of injury at work or impaired ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

General project management and capacity building

Include activities in planning the health promotion project such as establishing needs, involving stakeholders and building appropriate skills within the organisation.

Examples of complementary WHS activities:

  • consult with health and safety representatives and/or committee to ensure ongoing integration
  • review and integrate your drug and alcohol policies and no smoking policies as part of a holistic approach to worker health and wellbeing
  • review OHS policies and processes to include worker health and wellbeing issues, such as identifying hazards and managing risks.

© Adapted from a WorkSafe Victoria publication and reproduced with their permission.

Last updated
04 April 2017

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