Médecin du travail, médecin du patron ?
L'indépendance médicale en question
Occupational Physicians or Corporate Doctors?
Questioning Medical Independence
Work-related suffering, occupational cancers, musculoskeletal disorders... In France, occupational risk prevention is taking a turn for the worse.
This is the case despite the fact that there are professionals who are legally responsible for helping to prevent any negative impact on employee health caused by working conditions — occupational physicians. What role do these doctors play in the current failure of prevention? Can employees truly trust these professionals?
The unique status of occupational physicians subjects them to serious contradictions. Although they have the right, and even the obligation, to remain independent, as employees themselves, they are also subject to the authority of their employers.
Thanks to a five-year study, Marichalar shows how occupational physicians exercise their trade, issuing confirmations of fitness for work, recognising occupational diseases and taking into account unsafe working conditions.
This work sheds light on the failings of a system that exposes millions of workers to serious but preventable risks, and offers several possibilities for improving the independence of occupational physicians.
Pascal Marichalar is a sociologist and a research fellow with the CNRS. He is also a member of the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux (IRIS - Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Social Dynamics).