Pubblicato il: 15/06/2022
Occupational Diseases

Occupational Diseases: The ILO Monograph by a Milan-University-Led Team is Online

An international team of over 40 experts led by Claudio Colosio, professor of Occupational Medicine at the Department of Health Sciences of the University of Milan, is behind the monograph entitled Diagnostic and Exposure Criteria for Occupational Diseases. Guidance Notes for Diagnosis and Prevention of the Diseases in the ILO List of Occupational Diseases (revised 2010)The work is available on the website of the International Labour Office (ILO), a Geneva-based UN agency that promotes workers' health protection and the recognition and compensation of occupational diseases.

"The idea of this monograph, tells us Professor Colosio, was born in 2010, the day after ILO published the updated list of recognized occupational diseases, with the aim of systematizing the outcomes of long scientific debate and painful negotiation between the government bodies of the 187 member States, international workers' organizations and employers' representatives from major industries."

The monograph, conceived by Claudio Colosio and Shengli Niu, head of the ILO Safe Work Office, was produced with the support and collaboration of experts from all over the world. It consists of 76 concise technical sheets, each dedicated to one of the causal agents or occupational diseases: 40 chemical agents, 6 physical agents, 8 biological and parasitic agents, 21 respiratory, skin, and musculoskeletal diseases, a psycho-behavioural disease and 20 carcinogens. Professor Colosio relied on the collaboration of Michele Carugno, professor of Occupational Medicine at the Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health of the University of Milan, who spent a year in Geneva working on the text, and Federico Rubino, chemist and toxicologist at the Department of Health Sciences, who oversaw the drafting of the “General Characteristics of the Causal Agent” for all the sheets relating to chemical risk.

"Each sheet, continues Professor Colosio, contains an overview of the agent or pathology, the circumstances that may determine workers' exposure, the resulting diseases, diagnostic criteria, risk prevention and mitigation approaches, and essential references. The English version is already available on the ILO website. Multiple-language versions will follow to ensure wide international dissemination of this unique, authoritative data repository."

This monograph is a tool that the ILO makes available to its member States, scholars, technicians, operators, corporate managers and public protection and control officers, trade union representatives and students to learn how to detect occupational diseases both for prevention purposes and for damage compensation, when possible. “With this paper we wanted to give voice to the generations of workers' health protection scholars, and provide future generations with a training and updating tool that can also be an opportunity for reflection on the role that risk prevention plays and an ethically responsible model of human relations," concludes Professor Colosio.

The contribution of Italy, Milan and its University to workers' health protection has spanned the ages – from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the father of occupational medicine Bernardino Ramazzini (1633-1714) was recruited by the Republic of Venice as a professor in Padua, through to late-nineteenth-century clinicians who, in celebrating the opening of the Simplon Railway Tunnel, called for a medical institution specialized in the study and treatment of work-related diseases to be established in Milan in memory of the 20 workers who died during construction. So was born the Clinic that still bears the name of its founder, Luigi Devoto (1864-1936),  and that would serve as a model for similar European institutions throughout the twentieth century.