Bernardino Ramazzini

Not only in antiquity but in our own times also laws have been passed…to secure good conditions for workers; so it is right that the art of medicine should contribute its portion for the benefit and relief of those for whom the law has shown such foresight…[We] ought to show peculiar zeal…in taking precautions for their safety. I for one have done all that lay in my power, and have not thought it beneath me to step into workshops of the meaner sort now and again and study the obscure operations of mechanical arts.

An acquaintance of mine, a notary by profession, who, by perpetual writing, began first to complain of an excessive wariness of his whole right arm which could be removed by no medicines, and which was at last succeeded by a perfect palsy of the whole arm. . . . He learned to write with his left hand, which was soon thereafter seized with the same disorder.

[I have seen] workers in whom certain morbid affections gradually arise from some particular posture of the limbs or unnatural movements of the body called for while they work. Such are the workers who all day stand or sit, stoop or are bent double, who run or ride or exercise their bodies in all sorts of [excess] ways. … the harvest of diseases reaped by certain workers … [from] irregular motions in unnatural postures of the body.

When a doctor arrives to attend some patient of the working class, he ought not to feel his pulse the moment he enters, as is nearly always done without regard to the circumstances of the man who lies sick; he should not remain standing while he considers what he ought to do, as though the fate of a human being were a mere trifle; rather let him condescend to sit down for awhile.

…those who sit at their work and are therefore called ‘chair workers,’ such as cobblers and tailors, suffer from their own particular diseases … [T]hese workers … suffer from general ill-health and an excessive accumulation of unwholesome humors caused by their sedentary life … so to some extent counteract the harm done by many days of sedentary life. On the association between chronic inactivity and poor health. Ramazzini urged that workers should at least exercise on holidays

Those who work standing … carpenters, sawyers, carvers, blacksmiths, masons … are liable to varicose veins … [because] the strain on the muscles is such that the circulation of the blood is retarded. Standing even for a short time proves exhausting compared with walking and running though it be for a long time … Nature delights and is restored by alternating and varied actions.