Make your own free website on

The Health Connection will begin by discussing terms and issues used in the world of health, health promotion, and more specifically occupational health in this chapter titled "Components and Degrees of Health." A broad understanding of these terms is necessary to fully comprehend the solution and its implementation. The sections of this chapter are divided into health definitions, measures of productivity, work and employment terms, and aspects of health promotion.

The term health is often associated with someone who is not ill or hospitalized, but it is much broader. Health is defined as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity"(Cooper 133). In the workplace a term which appears often is occupational health. Occupational health refers to the health of employees and the safety of working conditions in the organization. Occupational health is defined 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" (Edinburgh). The operation of the body and its appearance are important parts of physical health. Physical health is defined as "fitness, diet, disease, injury, and medication" (Cooper 8). Components of physical health are for the most part easily measurable. Fitness is generally associated with exercise and a person's athletic ability. Fitness defined by the American Medical Association is "endurance, strength, aerobic capacity, and flexibility" (AMA). Better Training for Distance Runners gives a similar definition of fitness: "efficient cardiovascular and fuel-metabolizing systems, adequate joint flexibility, and an acceptable body composition" (Coe 254).

The following are several terms involving labor given by Career Resources. Terms involving labor help clarify the difference between those working and not working when making statements about the American work force. Labor force is "the sum of all civilians classified as employed and unemployed and members of the Armed Forces stationed in the United States." Everyone who has a job or is looking for one is included in the labor force, not just those who are working currently. An occupation is "a group of similar jobs found in different industries or organizations." A job "is a paid position." Employed are "people who work for pay or profit; who hold jobs or are temporarily absent from them; or who work without pay in a family owned business for fifteen or more hours a week.". People out of the labor force include "people who are enrolled in school, have family care responsibilities, and people who are disabled or retired." Unemployed are those "who are currently looking for work"(CR).

An organizational health program must be able to measure goals. One of the major goals of an organization is an increase in productivity. An increase in productivity usually leads to a gain in profits. The definition of productivity can be stated in many different ways. "Outputs divided by inputs, results achieved divided by resources consumed, effectiveness divided by efficiency, and the number of hours it takes to produce something" are all definitions of productivity given by the Queensland Department of Education Virtual Library (Queensland).

An illness or injury can sometimes lead to a disability that causes an employee to be unfit for work. The Social Security Handbook gives the following definition of disability: "the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental health impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months; a person must not only be unable to do his or her previous work but cannot, considering age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy; it is immaterial whether such work exists in the immediate area, or whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether the worker would be hired if he or she applied for work" (Section 507).

What leads to injury, illness, or a disability is often called an accident. Robin Bunton writes, "Nearly all accidents contain an element of neglect by exposure to risk, except those accidents which are true acts of God. Some would argue that these too can be avoided by appropriate action"(Bunton 119). A reason almost always exists for an accident in the workplace. An accident is "preventable" in theory. Accidents can be "calculated with some precision with the use of probability and a rational process"(Bunton 135). Accidents in the workplace, which involve lifting or physical exertion, can in many cases be attributed towards poor physical health (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Health promotion has several different guidelines in both the workplace and society. The use of health promotion in society is defined as "involving the population as a whole in the context of their everyday life, rather than focusing on people at risk for specific disease"(Tannahill 168). "The combination of educational and environmental supports for actions and conditions of living conducive to health," stated by Joseph Opatz, give a direct definition of health promotion (Opatz 69). Carol Tannahill states, "Health promotion is directed towards action on the causes or determinants of health"(Tannahill 168). Rather than focusing on treating disease and sickness, health promotion works to prevent illness and implements methods to avert poor health. Other guidelines for worksite health promotion include "reducing employees’ health risks, helping workers clearly understand their health care benefits, and targeting the most common and expensive types of health care claims"(Opatz 44).

In the following chapters, The Health Connection will use these essential definitions to explain all aspects of poor health and its implications in the work setting.

Back to Main Page