Article Text

Original article
Working conditions and absence from work during pregnancy in a cohort of healthcare workers


Objectives To assess the relationship between exposure to occupational risk factors during pregnancy and absence from work using two different social benefits.

Method Three working pregnancy trajectories (WPT) were identified in a cohort of 428 pregnant workers from a healthcare institution (period 2010–2014), based on absence days and using cluster analysis. WPT1 included absences mainly covered by sickness absence benefit (32.0% of women), WPT2 included absences covered by pregnancy occupational risk (POR) benefit (28.3%) and WPT3 were pregnant workers with few absences (39.9%). Exposure to occupational risk factors was assessed by experts and association with trajectories was analysed using logistic regression. Relative risks (RR) and their 95% CIs were adjusted for age, type of contract and shift work.

Results WPT2 was associated with exposure to physical (RR=1.86, 95%CI 1.17 to 2.97), safety (RR=2.10, 95%CI 1.61 to 2.73), ergonomic (RR=2.52, 95%CI 1.89 to 3.36) and psychosocial (RR=1.79, 95%CI 1.31 to 2.46) factors, and with exposure level. For physicians, WPT1 was associated with safety risks (RR=3.13, 95%CI 1.22 to 7.99), WPT2 with chemical and ergonomic for administrative/technical support (RR=12.20, 95%CI 1.69 to 88.09; RR=14.09, 95%CI 1.34 to 148.61, respectively), with safety and ergonomic risks for nursing aides (RR=1.84, 95%CI 1.12 to 3.02; RR=3.94, 95% CI 2.38 to 6.53, respectively), and with physical (RR=1.72, 95%CI 1.04 to 2.86), safety (RR=2.21, 95%CI 1.62 to 3.03), ergonomic (RR=2.02, 95%CI 1.44 to 2.86) and psychosocial factors (RR=1.96, 95%CI 1.32 to 2.90) for nurses.

Conclusions Absences from work covered by POR benefit show a consistent relationship with exposure to occupational risks. Sickness absence is the most frequent benefit used by pregnant workers. Current social benefits are apparently used adequately for protecting women from occupational exposures. Future studies are needed to clarify this further.

  • maternity leave
  • pregnancy
  • occupational risk factors
  • pregnancy occupational risk benefit
  • sickness absence

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