Illness associated with a particular occupation. The Industrial Revolution's long working hours, dim light, lack of fresh air, and dangerous machinery fostered illness and injury in general, but certain occupations (e.g., mining) carry particular risks (e.g., black lung, a type of pneumoconiosis). Twentieth-century innovations (including use of new chemicals and radioactive materials) caused an increase in certain cancers (e.g., leukemia and bone cancer in workers exposed to radiation) and injuries. So-called “sick buildings” (in which pathogens grow in air circulation systems) contribute to health problems among office workers. Occupational medicine also covers work-related emotional stresses. Seealso asbestosis; industrial medicine.
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The song was released as a single in the U.S and as a rare B-side to Private Investigations on cassette tape in the United Kingdom.
The song takes a look at decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980s, focusing on strikes, depression and dysfunctionality. For example, the absurdity of media-driven maladies is laid out in a segment of the song describing the narrator's visit to a doctor's office for treatment of his "Industrial Disease".
The reference to "Brewer's Droop" as a medical condition is an in-joke, referring both to the effect of alcohol on libido and to the band of the same name that Mark Knopfler played in prior to Dire Straits.