Bernardino Ramazzini was born in Carpi, Italy, in 1633. While he was still a medical student at Parma University, his attention was drawn to diseases suffered by workers. In 1682, when he was appointed chair of theory of medicine at the University of Modena, Ramazzini focused on workers' health problems in a systematic and scholarly way.1 He visited workplaces, observed workers' activities, and discussed their illnesses with them. The medicine courses he taught were dedicated to the diseases of workers.2

Ramazzini systematized the existing knowledge and made a large personal contribution to the field by collecting his observations in De Morbis Artificum Diatriba [Diseases of Workers]; the first edition was printed in Modena in 1700 and the second in Padua in 1713. Primarily on the basis of this work, Ramazzini is called “the father of occupational medicine.”3,4

Each chapter of the De Morbis Artificum Diatriba contains a description of the disease associated with a particular work activity followed by a literature analysis, workplace description, questions for workers, disease description, remedies, and advice. The clinical picture was directly observed by Ramazzini, who questioned workers about their complaints. He regularly asked his patients about the kind of work they did and suggested that all physicians do the same.4

Ramazzini realized that not all workers' diseases were attributable to the working environment (chemical or physical agents). He observed that a variety of common workers' diseases appeared to be caused by prolonged, violent, and irregular motions and prolonged postures. Such cumulative trauma and repetitivemotion injuries have recently been called the occupational epidemic of the 1990s.5 Ramazzini studied the relationship between certain disorders and postural attitudes, repetition of movements, and weight lifting and anticipated some preventive measures.


1. Carnevale F. Prefazione. In: Carnevale F, ed. Ramazzini B. Le malattie dei lavoratori. Roma: La Nuova Italia Scientifica; 1982:9–37. Google Scholar
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Giuliano Franco, MD, Hon FFOM RCP(London), and Francesca Franco, MD, MPH “Bernardino Ramazzini: The Father of Occupational Medicine”, American Journal of Public Health 91, no. 9 (September 1, 2001): pp. 1382-1382.

PMID: 11527763