Occupational medicine

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Occupational Medicine
Occupational Medicine Physician
  • Physician
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Fields of
Hospitals, Clinics, Government Agencies, Corporations,

Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM), previously called industrial medicine,[1][a] is a board certified medical specialty under the American Board of Preventative Medicine that specializes in the prevention and treatment of work-related illnesses and injuries.[2]

OEM physicians are trained in both clinical medicine and public health.[3] They may work in a clinical capacity providing direct patient care to workers through worker's compensation programs or employee health programs and performing medical screening services for employers.[2][3] Corporate medical directors are typically occupational medicine physicians who often have specialized training in the hazards relevant to their industry.[3] OEM physicians are employed by the US military in light of the significant and unique exposures faced by this population of workers.[3] Public health departments, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) commonly employ physicians specialized in occupational medicine.[4] They often advise international bodies, governmental and state agencies, organizations, and trade unions.[5][citation needed]

The specialty of Occupational Medicine rose in prominence following the industrial revolution.[6] Factory workers and laborers in a broad host of emergent industries at the time were becoming profoundly ill and often dying due to work exposures which prompted formal efforts to better understand, recognize, treat and prevent occupational injury and disease.[7]

More recently occupational medicine gained visibility during the COVID-19 Pandemic as spread of the illness was intricately linked to the workplace necessitating dramatic adjustments in workplace health, safety and surveillance practices.[8]

In the United States, the American College of Preventive Medicine oversees board certification of physicians in Occupational and Environmental Medicine [9]


Occupational medicine aims to prevent diseases and promote wellness among workers.[10] Occupational health physicians must:[10]

  • Have knowledge of potential hazards in the workplace including toxic properties of materials used.
  • Be able to evaluate employee fitness for work.
  • Be able to diagnose and treat occupational disease and injury.
  • Know about rehabilitation methods, health education, and government laws and regulations concerning workplace and environmental health.
  • Be able to manage health service delivery.

OM can be described as:

work that combines clinical medicine, research, and advocacy for people who need the assistance of health professionals to obtain some measure of justice and health care for illnesses they suffer as a result of companies pursuing the biggest profits they can make, no matter what the effect on workers or the communities they operate in.[11]


The first textbook of occupational medicine, De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Diseases of Workers), was written by Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini in 1700.[citation needed]

Notable Occupational Medicine Physicians[edit]

Governmental bodies[edit]

United States[edit]

Russian Federation[edit]

Research Institute of Occupational Medicine of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow)

Non-governmental organizations[edit]




United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ It can be confusing that British English also uses industrial medicine to refer to occupational health and safety and also uses occupational health to refer to occupational medicine. See the Collins Dictionary's entries for industrial medicine and occupational medicine and occupational health.


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ a b Ladou, Joseph (2021). Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Occupational and Environmental Medicine (6th ed.). United States of America: McGraw Hill. pp. 1–37. ISBN 978-1-260-14343-0.
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas McClure, MD. "What Is Occupational Medicine and What Do Occupational Medicine Specialists Do?". San Francisco Medical Society. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Occupational Epidemiology and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health". www.cdc.gov. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  5. ^ "Occupational Medicine". American Medical Association. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Changing the Face of Medicine | AliceHamilton". cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2024-02-08.
  7. ^ Hamilton, Alice (1985). Exploring the Dangerous Trades. Northeastern Univ Pr. ISBN 978-0930350819.
  8. ^ Kammoun, Nesrine; Bani, Mejda; Nouaigui, Habib (2022). "The role of occupational medicine in the response to the coronavirus outbreak: the Tunisian Occupational Health and Safety Institute's experience". Pan African Medical Journal. 41: 19. doi:10.11604/pamj.2022.41.19.27713. ISSN 1937-8688. PMC 8895581. PMID 35291363.
  9. ^ "Become Certified – American Board of Preventive Medicine".
  10. ^ a b "New to Occupational and Environmental Medicine". ACOEM. Retrieved 2021-11-21.
  11. ^ Interview with Dr. Stephen Levin/Obituary, Katie Halper, The Nation, February 14, 2012