The gender issue is an emerging topic in occupational medicine, although still not sufficiently explored in the medical literature nor addressed by an appropriate Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) legislation. The "classic mono-causal occupational disease" is nearly disappeared, replaced by the more and more frequent multi-factorial so-called "work-related diseases". These can be caused by a variable combination both of occupational and non-occupational factors. This change in the occupational diseases scenario requires a new multidisciplinary approach to the workplace prevention strategy, involving all different aspects of science, technology and policy. The adoption of gender as a new category of scientific investigation implies a novel holistic approach to research, based on the contamination and partially integration of the epistemological statutes and research methodologies of different scientific disciplines, also in order to support policy with more practical and effective instruments and knowledge. On the other hand, more efforts should be made to integrate public health care, OH&S policy with social welfare. Here the authors discuss about the implementation of the "gender-parameter" in some aspects of the OH&S Italian legislation, recently introduced by the 81/08 law, and briefly report on the state of the art of occupational medical literature with regard to gender differences.
Keywords: Gender differences, occupational risks, health and safety