Research into occupational stress that explores the relationship between physical and psychiatric illnesses and job environment has important implications for the field of workers compensation. Recent studies conducted in Australia have shown that occupational stress can be indexed by analysis of 'stress hormones' to provide a rationale for job (re)design and stress management programs generally. Inadequately designed jobs can be shown to extract a high physiological cost from employees, which may lead to physical illness. These findings, however, cannot easily be extended to psychiatric illness. A model is presented in which distress is represented by the individual's attitudes to stress. Such a view does not consider distress to be either a direct cause of job stress or an illness. According to this argurnent, claims for workers compensation based on psychiatric grounds can be expected to attract more resistance than those based on physiological factors.