Occupational medicine is the branch of clinical medicine most active in the field of occupational health. Occupational medicine specialists work to ensure that the highest standards of health and safety at work can be achieved and maintained. While it may involve a wide number of disciplines, it centers on the preventive medicine and management of illness, injury or disability that is related to the workplace. Occupational physicians must have a wide knowledge of clinical medicine and be competent in a number of important areas. They often advise international bodies, governmental and state agencies, organizations and trade unions. There are contextual links to insurance medicine.
Occupational health aims for the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well being of workers in all occupations; the prevention among workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; placing and maintenance of a worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological equipment. In sum, the goal of occupational medicine is the adaption of work to people and of each person to their job.
Dr. Stephen Levin, former medical director of the Mount Sinai Irving Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a Professor of Occupational Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the Co-Director of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program described occupational medicine as:
"work that combines clinical medicine, research, and advocacy for people who need the assistance of health professionals to obtain some measure of justice and health care for illnesses they suffer as a result of companies pursuing the biggest profits they can make, no matter what the effect on workers or the communities they operate in."
Schools that offer programs in occupational medicine
Physicians and others trained in health and safety may specialize in various aspects of occupational medicine, including toxicology, human factors, epidemiology ergonomics, safety studies and engineering. Many major schools of medicine offer programs with an emphasis in occupational health and safety, including: