Occupation Health - Western Carolina University

Report
Occupational Health
Module 1 – History of
Occupational Health
Overview
What is occupational health?
 Historical figures in occupational health

What is it?

Occupational health is:
 Part
of public health
 Assuring people are safe at work
 Preserving and protecting human resources
 Multidisciplinary approach to recognition,
diagnosis, treatment and prevention and
control of work-related diseases, injuries and
other conditions
What is it?
The bottom line – making sure people go
home from work will all their fingers and
toes, and that they have not been exposed
to anything that will adversely affect their
health
 Your job should NOT make you sick!

Historical Figures in
Occupational Health
History
Dangerous Professions as Punishment
"In that direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a
Hatter: and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March
Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad.
You're mad."
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,
Lewis Carroll.
History

Code of Hammurabi
 2000
B.C. ancient Babylonians
 Contains clauses for dealing with injuries, and
monetary damages for those who injured others
 “If a man has caused the loss of a gentleman’s eye,
his own eye shall be caused to be lost.”

LaDou, J. (1986). Introduction to Occupational safety and
Health. Chicago: National Safety Council, p.28.
Hippocrates (470 to 410 B.C.)




Greek physician
Father of Medicine
(Hippocratic oath)
Believed in rest, good
diet, exercise and
cleanliness
Observed lead
poisoning among
miners
Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 A.D.)



Roman senator, writer
and scientist
Dangers related to
zinc and sulfur
First to recommend
respiratory protection
 Miners
should cover
their mouths with an
animal bladder
Georgius Agricola (1494-1555)

Wrote De Re Metallica – mining,
smelting and refining
 Need
for ventilation and fresh air in
mines
 Environmental contamination
 Management techniques (shift
work)
 Ergonomics, mechanical lift
processes
 Butter is antidote for lead toxicity
 Goat’s bladder is used as
respiratory protection
Georgius Agricola

Described the following symptoms of
arsenic and cadmium “…there is found in
the mines black pompholyx, which eats
wounds and ulcers to the bone; this also
corrodes iron…these is a certain kind of
cadmia which eats away at the feet of
workmen when they have become wet,
and similarly their hands, and injures their
lungs and eyes.”
Paracelsus (1493-1591)

"All substances are
poisons; there is none
which is not a poison.
The right dose
differentiates a poison
and a remedy."
Von der Besucht, Paracelsus, 1567


Father of Toxicology
Established concepts of
acute and chronic toxicity
Bernardino Ramazzini (1633-1714)


Wrote Diseases of Workers
Urged physicians to ask “Of
what trade are you?” as part
of medical evaluation
 Related
occupational
diseases to handling of
harmful materials or unnatural
movements of the body
 Father of Occupational
Medicine
Percival Pott (1713-1788)

Identified relationship
between an
occupation (chimney
sweep), a toxin (polyaromatic
hydrocarbons) and
malignancy (testicular
cancer).
Chimney Sweeps
Alice Hamilton







Champion of social responsibility
Investigated the cause and effect of
worker illness
Interviewed workers in their homes
and at their dangerous jobs
Reviewed the evaluation and control
of industrial hazards such as lead and
silica
Founder of Industrial Hygiene
Wrote Exploring the Dangerous
Trades
First woman named to Harvard
Medical School staff

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