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OCCH401 Occupational Health

Introduction to occupational health with an emphasis on the prevention of ill health caused by workplace hazards.

Strategic management of health and safety risks in the workplace requires the development of a systematic and analytical approach to assessment. In this paper students develop investigative skills in the detection of chemical, physical, biological, ergonomic and psychosocial hazards. Using the bio-psychosocial model, they develop evidence-based strategies to manage and control health and safety risks.

The graduate will have developed 'hands-on' expertise in the systematic evaluation of occupational health hazards and will be able to formulate a workplace specific health and safety management plan.

Paper title Occupational Health
Paper code OCCH401
Subject Occupational Health
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,889.00
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $10,674.00

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OCCX 401
Limited to
MHealSc, MPhty, PGCertHealSc, PGDipHealSc, PGDipPhty
Candidates for the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (PGDipHealSc) endorsed in Hazard Assessment and Management must either be graduates or hold an appropriate health professional qualification requiring at least three years of full-time tertiary study. Admission is always subject to the approval of the Board of the Division of Health Sciences, which will require evidence of the candidate's ability to undertake advanced academic study.

Occupational Health Administrator: Amara Boyd

Teaching staff
Academic Leader: Associate Professor David McBride
Course Lecturer: Donna Burt
Paper Structure
The key themes are the systematic evaluation of risks to health and safety in the workplace and the development of an evidence-based management plan.
Teaching Arrangements

A three-day compulsory block weekend workshop in Dunedin

Interactive expert-led seminars by video conferencing through Zoom


These texts are available to students as an online resource through the University of Otago Library:

Levy BS, Wegman DH, Baron Sl, Sokas RK. Occupational and environmental health - recognizing and preventing disease and injury. (6th Edition). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Vickerstaff S, Phillipson C,  Wilkie R  (2011) Work, Health and Wellbeing: The challenges of managing health at work. Bristol, Policy Press

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will learn how to carry out a systematic investigation of the workplace in order to identify risks to health and safety in the workplace. Using a team-based collegial approach, the graduate will be able at to apply critical analysis skills and use 'best practice' in the development of a health and safety management plan.

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Course Coordinators

Dr Mike Anderson
Associate Professor David McBride

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This paper focuses on occupational health practice with particular reference to New Zealand. Our aim is to equip students with knowledge and skills to recognise and investigate occupational diseases in the working population. Appropriate referral and management options are also considered.

The course is distance taught with three audioconferences and a study weekend in Dunedin.

Topics include:

  • Epidemiology of occupational disease in New Zealand.
  • Occupational history taking and workplace assessment
  • Relevant legislation
  • Toxicology and risk assessment
  • Musculoskeletal diseases, ergonomics, and rehabilitation
  • Diseases arising from physical, biological, chemical and psychosocial hazards
  • Department of Labour Occupational Health Action Plan to 2013
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Further information

Download the Occupational Health course information booklet (PDF 1.4MB)

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Research Student Administrator
Extension 7201

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system