In English


Work can make you sick

This year’s first Telma deals with work-related diseases and how to prevent them. Even if promoting occupational safety and health isn’t exactly your cup of tea, I recommend that you read the journal. The articles tell you what can result from unsuccessful or neglected safety solutions. The consequence may be for instance a work-related disease, an occupational disease, a disease that is aggravated by work, or an accident. These are familiar words to many of us, but we seldom think about what they really mean. The terms are easily tied up into one tangled ball, and they are even used partly as synonyms. So obviously the matter is complicated.

The concept of work-related disease is quite new in the history of work. No one talked about work-related diseases when the pyramids were built. Perhaps there was no need. When a pyramid builder was crushed under a slab of stone weighing thousands of kilos, he most likely lost his life. There was no time for work-related diseases to develop. Surprisingly, this thousands of years old work accident is still with us – now only in a different form and in different kinds of work. A highly risky situation caused by a falling rock is described also in this journal.

As people’s work careers lengthen, they are exposed for longer periods to various chemicals and physical loading factors. It is therefore important to pay more attention to preventing work-related diseases so that they will not cancel the benefits that are sought by longer work careers. Automation has already eliminated, and in future will eliminate many other work tasks that cause work-related diseases. However, this development has simultaneously increased sedentary work for many of us, and this has been found hazardous to health. The cause of work-related diseases has simply changed into another. So we face a risk of falling out of the frying pan into the fire when trying to prevent work-related diseases. Achieving this goal requires the expertise of several actors.

Kenneth Johansson



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