Occupational Medicine in Italy
The origins of Occupational Medicine in Italy date back to the publication of “De Morbis Artificum Diatriba”, the first comprehensive treatise on the diseases of workers written by Bernardino Ramazzini in 1700. However, the modern era of Occupational Medicine in Italy officially began on 12th October 1929 when the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine – Europe’s oldest and largest Association of this kind – was set up during the eighth national Occupational Health Congress held in Naples. Although this Society was officially founded in 1929, we should not forget that the first national Congress of Occupational Health took place in Palermo as early as 1907.
The first President of the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine was Luigi Devoto who also founded the Milan “Work Clinic” on 20th March 1910. This institution was the first clinic in the world that was specifically designed to study health and disease in the workplace.
In the 1970s, the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine changed its name to the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene.
Italy has a population of 59.4 million inhabitants. The active working population is about 22.7 million, comprising 56.4 % of the total population. There are approx. 330,000 doctors in Italy and approx. 10,000 occupational physicians. Currently, the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene has approx. 2,000 members.
Occupational Health Services
- Public Health Care Centres;
- Private Occupational Health Centres;
- Private practice.
In Italy, employers and companies can engage freelance occupational physicians or enter into a contract with a private occupational health centre.
In the Schools of Medicine in Italy, Occupational Medicine is taught as a separate, mandatory subject.
In order to become an occupational physician and practise this profession in Italy, medical graduates must undergo a 5-year postgraduate training course that consists of practical and theoretical training in the health care of workers, risk assessment and management, industrial hygiene, epidemiology and statistics, industrial toxicology and health promotion. At the end of this postgraduate training period, to obtain a specialization in occupational medicine, trainee physicians must present and discuss a scientific thesis.
Furthermore, in compliance with laws 502/1992 and 229/1999, occupational physicians must complete their Continuing Medical Education (Credits System) obligations in order to be enrolled on the national register of occupational physicians.
The specific tasks of the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene are (i) to contribute to the advancement, development and dissemination of knowledge in the field of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, (ii) to promote, encourage, inspire and support the implementation of measures aimed at the diagnosis and prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, (iii) to contribute to informing, training and updating occupational physicians. These objectives are mainly achieved through the development, implementation and evaluation of specific guidelines and the promotion of annual training programs (Continuing Medical Education).
- Ability to work and sickness absence;
- Alcoholism and drug addiction and work;
- Atypical jobs and work shift;
- Biological and environmental monitoring;
- Biological risk;
- First aid in the workplaces;
- Health surveillance;
- Musculoskeletal disorders;
- Noise and vibrations;
- Non-ionizing radiation and optic radiation;
- Occupational skin diseases;
- Risk assessment and management;
- Toxicology of organic compounds and metals;
- Transport workers;
- Working hours and sleep disorders;
- Working with VDUs;
- Work-related mental illness;
- Work-related stress.
The Italian Society of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene (http://www.simlii.it/)
President: Prof. Francesco Saverio Violante
SIMLII secretariat- c/o Meneghini & Associati srl
Viale Trento, 56/f – 36100 Vicenza