Bernardino Ramazzini and the new epidemics of work-related disorders.
ABSTRACT Work-related diseases (such as musculoskeletal disorders, neoplasms cardiocirculatory and psycho-social problems disorders) represent an increasing problem that countries are becoming aware of. In particular, musculoskeletal disorders, affecting workers in a variety of occupations, are a major cause of lost time from work and workers' disability. The paper reviews Ramazzini's observations of musculoskeletal disorders of subjects working in the second half of the seventeenth century. He observed that several clinical pictures were linked to a variety of factors (prolonged stationary postures, unnatural postures, repetition of movements, heavy muscular performance) and stressed the need to provide workforce with hygienic measures and information about hazards and preventive measures. It is worthy to stress that Ramazzini's observations, based on original intuitions and critical reasoning, anticipate the modern approach based on epidemiological principles.