Introduction Social class is a key determinant of inequalities in working conditions and health. We analysed, for the first time, the association between social class, working conditions and occupational health outcomes in Argentina.
Methods Data come from the first Argentinian working conditions survey (2010) conducted on non-agricultural formal private-sector workers in registered enterprises. Subjects (n = 7,195) were classified into services class, intermediate and working class according to an adapted Erikson-Golthorpe social class scheme for Argentina. Working conditions and self-reported occupational injuries and occupational disease are compared across social class (Chi2). Poisson regression models to estimate adjusted (by age, sex, and tenure) prevalence proportion ratios (PRR) of each outcome by social class and poor working conditions.
Results Prevalence of exposure to hygienic risks in the working class is more than twice than in the services and intermediate classes; ergonomic risks follow a steep gradient where the working class doubles the risk of the services class. Working time autonomy is highest in the intermediate class and lowest in the working class; psychological demands and social support from superiors follow a slight gradient being highest in the service class, while social support from colleagues is lowest in intermediate classes. PRR of occupational injuries was 1.96 (95% CI: 1.5–2.6) in the working class, and highest for exposure to toxic and biologic risks, and for lack of social support from superiors and colleagues. PRR of occupational disease exhibited no social-class differences, but strong associations with working conditions, including psychosocial risks.
Conclusions Working class workers have the highest exposure to poor working conditions, and highest prevalence of occupational injuries. The absence of social-class differences in occupational disease may be related to differences across classes in the outcomes contained in the self-report, requiring further studies. Results also highlight the relevance of work organisation for occupational health, beyond psychological health.
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