The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

3193.0: Monday, November 11, 2002 - 1:42 PM

Abstract #33611

Left contributions to 20th century U.S. occupational health and workers' medical services

Walter J. Lear, MD, Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health, 206 N. 35th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-2429, 215-386-5327,

Burgeoning, profiteering, brutalizing industrial capitalism was the primary context for twentieth century U.S. occupational health. In addition, the principal and very influential organization of physicians, the American Medical Association, was militantly right-wing while organized labor was not very strong and only sparsely left-wing. It is remarkable, therefore, that left-wing physicians and other health professionals not only undertook careers that expressed their deep concern for the working class but made substantial contributions to the health and working conditions of American wage-earners. These contributions ranged over the entire field: 1. Technical assistance to occupational health programs of labor unions; 2. Worker education and training--programs, literature, films; 3. Development and advocacy of occupational health legislation, public policies, and regulations/standards and their enforcement; 4. Scientific research on occupational diseases; 5. Literature and other educational activities for professionals; 6. Leadership of the occupational health field; 7. Emergency medical services for injured strikers and demonstrators; 8. Union owned and managed health centers and hospitals; 9. Support for non-profit worker-controled health insurance and for universal, government-mandated medical service programs. Also deserving comment and analysis are the relationship of occupational health leftists to the working class, the principal relevant scientific and political issues, and the rewards and penalties for U.S. occupational health leftists.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Building Coalitions to Advance Occupational Health

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA