This article deals with the history of workers’ health and of occupational medicine in the preindustrial age. It aims to show the relevance of many writings describing or analysing workers’ diseases and suffering before the official birth of the occupational medicine. The history of the public debate on the occupational safety and health officially dates back to 1700, with the publication of the diatriba on "diseases of workers" by Bernardino Ramazzini (1633-1714). The importance and scope of this work, which was translated into several languages and frequently reissued up until today, have erased from the collective memory the treatises on the physical and moral suffering endured by many classes of workers before the 18th century. No research on the long term has been undertaken on the troubles related to the exercise of a trade before the Age of Enlightenment. The present study puts forward new aspects of the relationship between medical sciences and professional milieu through a detailed survey on the medical and literary sources of the work of Ramazzini.
Keywords: Medicina, Salute, Lavoro, Rinascimento, Illuminismo, Ramazzini