Ramazzini and the New Epidemics

Giuliano Franco


Work-related diseases (such as musculoskeletal disorders, neoplasms cardio- circulatory and psycho-social problems disorders) represent an increasing problem that countries are becoming aware of. In particular, musculoskeletal disorders, affecting workers in a variety of occupations, are a major cause of lost time from work and workers disability. The paper reviews ramazzinis observations of musculoskeletal disorders of subjects working in the second half of the seventeenth century. He observed that several clinical pictures were linked to a variety of factors (prolonged stationary postures, unnatural postures, repetition of movements, heavy muscular performance) and stressed the need to provide workforce with hygienic measures and information about hazards and preventive measures. It is worthy to stress that ramazzinis observations, based on original intuitions and critical reasoning, anticipate the modern approach based on epidemiological principles. 

Key words: Occupational medicine - Occupational health - Public health - Epidemiology - Musculoskeletal disorders 

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