I hope you all had a great summer. You may have noticed that I took quite a hiatus from the blog. I started my MPH classes in May (which took up a LOT of my time), visited some family, and moved across the state! Now that some of this craziness has passed, I am glad to be back on the blog as I start medical school. However, instead of posting on a weekly basis, I will likely post every other week. Ideally, there will be a few personal or medical school related blog posts in the mix as well, but I can’t make any promises this early in the game.
Let’s start this month with a popular section, “Famous Names in Public Health!” This month’s figure is known as the father of occupational health. His name is Bernardino Ramazzini.
Ramazzini was born in Italy in 1633. He studied medicine at Parma University where he developed a particular interest in worker’s health and the prevalence of disease among specific professions. During his career he published De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Disease of Workers) which was a collection of works regarding detailed and specific information regarding worker’s diseases, notes of his observations, and advice. Much of this information was collected through observation, interviews, and interaction with the workers.
Since 1700, Ramazzini’s work has remained popular around the world and has been translated into many languages (although it is important to note that it wasn’t until it’s re-printing in 1940 that his writings on occupational diseases truly gained traction in the public health field). He has been cited numerous times throughout history by prominent members of society including Karl Marx, Cotton Mather (the Puritan minister), and Alice Hamilton (considered the founder of toxicology). (1). In these works, Ramazzini made some interesting insights. He condemned smoking tobacco by noting that it contributed to illnesses among tobacco workers and he made many important observations about the effects of posture and movements on physical health (an important component of ergonomics). An overview of many of the observations that Ramazzini makes in his collection can be viewed here.
Rammazzini’s continued interest in worker-related illness contributed to a lifelong commitment to the field of worker’s health and served as the foundation of the field of occupational medicine. (2). His recognition of the impact that occupations can have on a person’s health has revolutionized our understanding of illness and disease. Without his notable works, organizations like OSHA would not exist to protect workers today.