on stress, work and illness
Thanks in part to earlier trade union pressure, occupational health
and safety issues are recognised. Even some employers see them as
important. The state, often in collaboration with employers, has
produced a flood of laws and regulations. A recent book about state-labour
relations in Brazil, Drowning in Laws, suggests both the abundance
of labour legislation and its suffocating effects. According to
the ILO, Brazil has one of the world’s most comprehensive
set of laws on occupational health and safety.
These institutions have been present for decades, yet health problems
persist. Actual incidence of occupational illness is poorly-known.
An estimated 80 percent of work-related illnesses go unreported
to the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) and only 43
percent of Brazilian workers are registered with the INSS. Existing
data also shows that stress-related disorders make up the majority
of occupational diseases and reached in some sectors more than a
portion of 60 percent. Additionally, it seems that women are far
more affected: in the food industry 90 percent of affected workers
are women. According to a study in the state of Espirito Santo 73,5
percent of all affected workers are women, which is mainly due to
the poor working conditions of sectors as the food industry where
the majority of workers are women. However the real extent of the
problem remains unclear, as existing data is either incomplete for
certain sectors or not available for unions or the public.