In 1986, the World Health Organization stated that health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life: where they learn, work, play and love. In recent years actions to promote health and well-being have moved away from concentrating on specific health problems, at risk groups and disease prevention to addressing the multitude of complex factors that determine an individual health status. 

Our lives are lived in our community, the place where we work, the schools and colleges we attend and the places in which we enjoy our leisure time. It is in these settings that actions need to be taken to protect and improve our health and the health of those around us. 

The workplace is considered to be an important setting for health promotion activity for the following reasons:

  • Structures already exist within the workplace for occupational health and health and safety requirements. These can be easily used to deliver health promotion activities.
  • The workplace offers enormous potential to reach large numbers of people with information and assistance to improve their health and well-being. Some of these people are in groups which are otherwise hard to reach.
  • It is in the common interest of employers and employees to promote health at work.
  • Forward thinking organisations recognise that the management of their human capital is as important, if not more so, than the management of their financial and other resources. Employee health and fitness for work are closely linked and are key factors in any organisations drive towards greater effectiveness, competitiveness and productivity.

At one level all workplaces can be considered to be in the "workplace setting". However, there are many different types of organisation and so the "workplace setting" is a general title which incorporates the many specific organisational settings, including:

  • large organisations
  • small and medium sized enterprises
  • public administrations
  • health service and welfare (e.g. hospitals)
  • education and training (e.g. schools)
  • labour market and administration