Over the years, the British workplace has provided a fertile bed for the growth of health-related surveillance, research and intervention. A brief review of the literature on this topic, highlights the plethora of different groups involved, and their differing agenda in relation to the health of the workforce. Key participants, including the workforce, have different perceptions of, and commitment to, the promotion of health. Health promotion should be concerned with reducing inequalities in health experience and opportunity but, because the large majority of British workplaces have no access to appropriate occupational health services, most health promotion activity is concentrated in large profit-making concerns with suitable existing facilities. In this article, the background to health-related initiatives in the British workplace is given, and the various contributions to workplace health promoting activities are noted. Their potential for mis-use is discussed and the need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to primary care, including health promotion, is suggested. In the present economic climate in Britain there is a need to create a comprehensive database of all health promotion activities so that, with collaboration, integration and coordination of all initiatives, regardless of venue, we can put our present meagre resources to best use.