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Work and health in Latin America: results from the working conditions surveys of Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Central America and Uruguay
  1. Pamela Merino-Salazar1,2,3,4,
  2. Lucía Artazcoz5,6,
  3. Cecilia Cornelio7,
  4. María José Itatí Iñiguez7,
  5. Marianela Rojas8,
  6. David Martínez-Iñigo9,
  7. Alejandra Vives10,11,
  8. Lorena Funcasta12,
  9. Fernando G Benavides1,2,6
  1. 1CISAL (Center for Research in Occupational Health), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute), Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Facultad de Ciencias del Trabajo y Comportamiento Humano, Universidad Internacional SEK, Quito, Ecuador
  4. 4Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, Quito, Ecuador
  5. 5Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Spain
  7. 7Superintendencia de Riesgos del Trabajo, Ministerio de Trabajo, Empleo y Seguridad Social, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  8. 8Programa Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente (SALTRA), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
  9. 9Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, España
  10. 10Departamento de Salud Pública, Escuela de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile
  11. 11CEDEUS, Conicyt-Fondap; ACCDiS, Conicyt-Fondap, Chile
  12. 12Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pamela Merino-Salazar, Center for Research in Occupational Health, Edificio PRBB (Campus del Mar), Doctor Aiguader, 88, Barcelona 08003, Spain; dramerinos{at}


Objective To describe working and employment conditions, and health status between non-agricultural employees with a written contract from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Central America and Uruguay.

Methods We compared data from the first working condition surveys (WCS) of Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Central America and Uruguay. For comparative purposes, we selected a subsample of 15 241 non-agricultural employees aged 18–64 years and working with a written contract. We calculated prevalences and 95% CIs for the selected variables on working and employment conditions, and health status, separated by sex.

Results Across all countries, at least 40% of women and 58% of men worked >40 hours a week. The most prevalent exposures were repetitive movements, followed by noise and manual handling, especially among men. Psychosocial exposures were very common among both sexes. Workers in Chile (33.4% of women and 16.6% of men) and Central America (24.3% of women and 19.1% of men) were more likely to report poor self-perceived health and were least likely to do so in Colombia (5.5% of women and 4.2% of men). The percentage of workers reporting occupational injuries was <10% across all countries.

Conclusions This study provides, for the first time, a broad picture of work and health in different Latin American countries, based on the national WCSs available. This allows for a better understanding of occupational health and could serve as a baseline for future research and surveillance of work and health in the Region. However, greater efforts are needed to improve WCSs comparability.

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  • Contributors PM-S contributed to the design of the study, data analyses, interpretation of data and drafting of the work. FGB and LA contributed to the design of the study, interpretation of results and review of the manuscript. All coauthors critically revised the article for important intellectual content.

  • Funding This study was partially supported by a grant from the Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación del Ecuador.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Clinical Research Ethical Commitee of the Parc de Salut Mar (CEIC-Parc de Salut Mar).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.