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occupational health


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The specialized branch of medicine, other health professions, and public health practice concerned with the health of workers, provision of healthy conditions in workplaces, and diseases related to occupational exposures. It has many aspects, including studies of the occupational environment; monitoring of working conditions and workers' health; identifying, preventing, and treating work-related diseases and injuries; and ensuring that workers are fit to carry out the tasks expected in specific occupations. An important aspect is identification, prevention, and control of chronic life-threatening diseases of occupational origin, such as cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and renal or hepatic failure. The “workplace environment” may include dwellings adjoining the workplace that may be affected by workplace conditions, as with exposure to asbestos, beryllium, and toxic emissions from factory smelter stacks. Specialists in this field require psychological skills because of the increasing importance and relevance of psychological problems in the working environment, and political skills because an important part of their work can include negotiations between labor and management about relationships between working conditions and health. Occupational and environmental medicine is a medical specialty of the American Board of Medical Specialists. See http://www.acoem.org/ for details. The British equivalent is the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the UK Royal Colleges of Physicians; see http://www.facoccmed.ac.uk/. See also toxicology and industrial hygiene.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.


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