Background

Occupational morbidity is developing continuously to more and more complex direction. New occupational diseases are generated by several new exposures and agents at the workplace, including new materials, new working practices and new working life trends such as rapid internationalization. Simultaneously the morbidity in traditional occupational diseases is severely underdiagnosed and under-reported. For example the European statistics of occupational diseases covers only some 50 000 disease cases a year from 150 million European workforce as Finland alone reports from its 2.4 million workforce (1.6%) some 7000 cases a year (14%) and even Finland does under-register.

Solid scientific evidence speaks for attribution of work to growing numbers of common communicable and non-communicable diseases such as infectious diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases and allergies. The diagnostics and studies on attribution by work needs active research and development of methods for recognition of work-relatedness of various diseases.

ILO is in the process of updating the list of occupational diseases and developing both criteria for listing and inclusion of new diseases into the list. ILO has used ICOH expert advise in the updationg process and is likely to need also in further updationg of list http://store..is-professional/.

Who has initiated a project for including occupational diseases into the International Statistical Classifiaction of Diseases and Related Health Problems, ICD 11. ICOH has expressed its interest to participate in the ICD work in different disease groups relevant for occupationmal medicine.

All the trends and needs described above need better organization in field of Occupational Medicine within ICOH. ICOH has several Scientific Commitees focusing to narrower disease-oriented areas of OM, including among others, respiratory disease, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, dermatoses etc., but the broad scope of occupational medicine, diagnostics of occupational diseases and the new aspect of work-related diseases have remained uncovered.

The establishment of the new Scientifc Commitee is needed, but it is not expected to dilute the activities of the existing committees. It may have a certain coordinating effect on all occupational medicine activities within ICOH. This would imply close collaboration with the numerous disease-oriented Commitees.