Occupational health

Workplace health promotion


Advocacy is a key health promotion activity for overcoming major barriers to public health and occupational health. The barriers addressed by advocacy are poor living and working conditions, rather than individual or behavioral barriers. The modern use of the term advocacy gained momentum from the Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion (a landmark definition of health promotion): “Political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioral and biological factors can all favor health or be harmful to good health. Health promotion aims at making these conditions favorable through advocacy for health”.

Advocacy has a key role in building and maintaining occupational health programmes and is essential to shape the social and political climate. The tactics and strategies of advocacy and lobbying are not easily described in terms of programmes. This is because advocates need to adopt the same set of opportunist, responsive, imaginative, flexible, dramatic and above all newsworthy tactics that are the stuff of all successful public opinion, political and commercial campaigning.

Occupational health and safety grew up in the environment of the large factory and enterprise, and we are only now learning how to carry it out in small enterprises and the informal sector. Intermediary organizations - which may be NGO’s or private consultancies that specialise in occupational health and safety - play an important role in working with employers, self-employed workers, and sometimes directly with workers.

The Western Pacific and European Offices of WHO have been particularly successful in developing effective healthy work programmes that focus on primary prevention. In these initiatives the hazards associated with the combined effects of lifestyle factors and occupational exposures are identified and minimised. Health promotion that introduces healthy lifestyles and supports the maintenance of such lifestyles with appropriate information, counselling and edu¬cational measures is undertaken as part of the occupational health and safety programme.