Background In Brazil, the National Health System provides primary health care, PHC, in which interdisciplinary teams support community health agents, CHA, responsible for families living in catchment areas.
Objectives To describe occupational exposures among informal home-based workers, HBW, in order to integrate occupational health and safety into PHC.
Methods Based on PHC families’ files, home-based informal workers were listed and recruited. Trained interviewers and CHAs visited worksites to identify hazards using a checklist, assessing levels of noise and formaldehyde in the air, and other self-reported threats to health. Tablets with ODK Collect software were used.
Results There were 450 worksites and 468 invited workers agreed to participate. The majority comprises women (77.1%), of black skin colour (92.5%), 18–50 years of age (54.7%), 6–9 school years (65.4%), and an average US$300.00 income per month (75.4%). Prevailing trades were retail (35.3%), food (25.8%) and personal beauty care (17.1%). Almost all workers reported to be self-employed (92.5%), had no resting days (45%) and 45 to 135 work hours per week (48.5%). All worksites had occupational exposures of interest for health. From 19.6 hours continuous assessment, the noise level was 77 dB(A), and formaldehyde exposure over threshold limit value was detected in five beauty salons out of 10 investigated.
Conclusions Home-based businesses is a mainly women survivorship strategy, who work for long journeys, in poor urban areas of Brazil. The integration of workers’ health into PHC can identify, in this context, situations of health problems and support planning of preventive measures.
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