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Bernardino Ramazzini
1633  - 1714

Bernardino Ramazzini was born in Carpi, a town in north-central Italy a few miles north of Modena. He studied both medicine and law at Parma and received his doctorate in medicine in 1659.

In 1700, Ramazzini's work entitled  De morbis artificum diatriba was published: five years later the Latin work was translated into English (altho does ugh not adequately until 1940) as Diseases of Tradesmen. This was the first treatise to address comprehensively the infirmities provoked by the hazards of one's livelihood, that is, occupational health.

Ramazzini deals with a variety of trades people, such as miners of metals, wet-nurses, corpse-bearers and fishermen. He also offers advice for workers who stand, sedentary workers and those who strain their eyes over fine work. A dissertation on "diseases of learned men" is included as well, lest it be thought that only those involved with physical labor were subject to health hazards.

Ramazzini discusses occupational health and hygiene in a practical yet poetic manner, combining quotations from classical verse with his own erudite prose. In the 1713 supplement, which augments the original edition by twelve entries, Ramazzini muses on the nature of weaving:

"How useful or rather how necessary is the weaver’s art we can decide from the fact that every living soul covers his nakedness with some sort of woven stuff. Nor should we grumble at Nature for having bestowed plumage on birds and on every animal a hairy cover while man alone she left naked. For man has inventive talents and hands with which to weave for himself many different kinds of clothing, not merely as a covering but also to adorn and beautify himself."

Janice Braun, Medical History Library, Yale University, Reprinted with permission: copyright YALE MEDICINE


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