Occupational Health & Safety

"You are so brave and quiet, I forget you are suffering."

Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961), American writer
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This Business English lesson plan on occupational health and safety has been designed for business professionals or other adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

As more and more people find work in offices, we become much more sedentary. We will sit for hours at a desk in an unnatural position for our bodies. Day after day, this can cause us serious health problems. Companies have a responsibility for the well-being of their staff, and occupational health is becoming more and more important. In this Business English lesson plan on occupational health and safety, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their comfort at work, common health issues faced by workers, and why companies should take occupational health seriously.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Beakon | 10 Benefits of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

The article highlights 10 benefits for companies that pay attention to occupational health, including improving staff morale, better public relations and lower insurance premiums. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they might add to the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is a TEDx Talk by Tom Oxley called “Workplace Mental Health – all you need to know (for now)” which talks about the importance of mental health in the workplace.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means, if they agree with it and how it could relate to business. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including safety issues where the students work, exercises to do while working, and which jobs are the most dangerous.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with occupational health and safety such as hazard, sick leave and sick pay. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about occupational health and safety at work. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as how they could report safety concerns they have at work, whether health and safety standards have increased, and why some people say, “health and safety has gone mad.”


After the class, students will write an email to their occupational health representative raising any concerns they have about their health or safety at work. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.


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