The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

With regards to the numerous Importance of Health, Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more.

Definition of Health

The term ‘health’is a positive and dynamic concept. In common parlance, health impliesabsence of disease. However, that industrial health implies much morethan mere absence of disease is clear from the following definitionsof health:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness or infirmity”. As regards the industrial health, it refers to a system of public health and preventive medicine which is applicable to industrial concerns.

Here, the definition of health given by the joint I.L.O/W.H O. Committee on Organizational Health is worth quoting:

(i) The prevention andmaintenance of physical, mental and social well-being of workers inall organisations;

(ii) Prevention amongworkers of ill-health caused by the working conditions;

(iii) Protection ofworkers in their employment from risk resulting from factors adverseto health; and

(iv) Placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physical and psychological equipment.

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Thus the modem concept of health emphasizes on the “whole man concept.” In other words, health refers to the outcome of the interaction between the individual and his environment. So to say, he/she is healthy who is well adjusted with environment.

The modem concept ofhealth thus, anticipates and recognizes potentially harmfulsituations and applies engineering control measures to preventdisease or illness or infirmity. In this way, industrial healthdepends not only on the individual worker but also on the environmentin which he/she lives and works.

Types of Health

1) Physical Health

The physical health refers to infirmity in the employee’s health. Employee’s physical health and his work are intimately related. While an unhealthy employee works less both quantitatively and qualitatively, commits accidents, and remains absent from work, a healthy employee produces results opposite to these. The same underlines the need for and importance of healthy employees in an organization.

2) Mental Health

This refers to the mental soundness of the employees. As is physical health important for good performance, so is mental health also. Experience suggests that three factors, namely, mental breakdowns, mental disturbances, and mental illness impair the mental health of employees.

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Importance of Health

The trite saying ‘Health is Wealth’ explains the importance of health. Ill health results in high rate of absenteeism and turnover, industrial discontent and indiscipline, poor performance, low productivity and more accidents.

On the contrary, the natural consequences of good health are reduction in the rate of absenteeism and turnover, accidents and occupational diseases.

Besides, employeehealth also provides other benefits such as reduced spoilage,improved morale of employee, increased productivity of employee andalso longer working period of an employee which, of course, cannot beeasily measured.

In long and short,employee health is important because it helps:

1. Maintain andimprove the employee performance both quantitatively andqualitatively.

2. Reduce employeeabsenteeism and turnover.

3. Minimize industrialunrest and indiscipline.

4. Improve employeemorale and motivation.

Occupational healthservices should be established in or near a place of employment forthe purpose of:

(i) Protecting theworkers against any health hazard arising out of work or conditionsin which it is carried on;

(ii) Contributingtowards worker’s physical and mental adjustment; and

(iii) Contributing to establishment and maintenance of the highest possible degree of physical and mental well-being of the workers.

The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health
The Definition, Factors and Importance of Health

Factorsfor Good Health

Health depends on awide range of factors.

A person is born witha range of genes, and in some people, an unusual genetic pattern canlead to a less-than-optimum level of health.

Environmental factorsplay a role. Sometimes the environment alone is enough to impacthealth. Other times, an environmental trigger can cause illness in aperson who is genetically susceptible.

Access to healthcareplays a role, but the WHO suggests that the following factors mayhave a bigger impact on health than this:

  • where a person lives
  • the state of the surrounding environment
  • genetics
  • income
  • education level
  • relationships with friends and family

These can besummarized as:

  • The social and economic environment: Including how wealthy a family or community is
  • The physical environment: Including parasites that exist in an area, or pollution levels
  • The person’s characteristics and behaviors: Including the genes that a person is born with and their lifestyle choices

According to the WHO, the higher a person’s socioeconomic status (SES), the more likely they are to enjoy good health, a good education, a well-paid job, afford good healthcare when their health is threatened.

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People with a lowersocioeconomic status are more likely to experience stresses relatedto daily living, such as financial difficulties, marital disruption,and unemployment, as well as social factors, such as marginalizationand discrimination. All these add to the risk of poor health.

A low socio-economicstatus often means less access to healthcare. People in developedcountries with universal healthcare services have longer lifeexpectancies than people in developed countries without universalhealthcare.

Cultural issues canaffect health. The traditions and customs of a society and a family’sresponse to them can have a good or bad impact on health. Forexample, around the Mediterranean, people are more likely to consumehigh levels of fruits, vegetables, and olive, and to eat as a family,compared with cultures with a high consumption of fast food.

How a person managesstress will affect health. People who smoke, drink, or take drugs toforget their problems are likely to have more health problems laterthan someone who combats stress through a healthful diet andexercise.

Men and women are prone to different health factors. In societies where women earn less than men or are less educated, they may be at greater risk than men for poor health.


The best way tomaintain health is to preserve it through a healthful lifestyle,rather than waiting until we are sick to put things right.

This state of enhancedwell-being is referred to as wellness.

The McKinley HealthCenter at the University of Illinois IL defines wellness as:“A stateof optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing anindividual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towardsenhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual,and environmental well-being.”

Wellness promotes anactive awareness of and participation in health, as an individual andin the community.

Maintaining wellnessand optimal health is a lifelong, daily commitment.

Steps that can help usmaximize our health include:

  • a balanced, nutritious diet, sourced as naturally as possible
  • regular exercising
  • screening for diseases that may present a risk
  • learning to manage stress
  • engaging in activities that provide purpose and connection to others
  • maintaining a positive outlook and appreciating what you have
  • defining a value system, and putting it into action

Peak health will bedifferent for each person, and how you achieve wellness may bedifferent from how someone else does.

It may not be possible to avoid disease completely, but doing as much as we can to develop resilience and prepare the body and mind to deal with problems as they arise is a step we can all take.

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