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Revista de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910
LENIS BALLESTEROS, Viviana; LOPEZ ARANGO, Yolanda Lucía and CUADROS URREGO, Yicenia Milena. Health and informal work conditions among recyclers in the rural area of Medellin, Colombia, 2008. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2012, vol.46, n.5, pp.866-874. ISSN 1518-8787. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89102012000500014.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize the work, health and occupational risk conditions of recyclers from the rural area. METHODS: Cross-sectional study, with the participation of one hundred informal recyclers in five corregimientos (small administrative units) of Medellin in 2008. The source of information was primary: a structured survey on work, health and occupational risk conditions and also on perceived morbidity, which enabled to characterize the population's risks through descriptive statistics and approach the relationships and associations of the risks with the morbidity in the population. RESULTS: One hundred and four people were engaged in recycling, and 100 of them were included in the study: 34 people belonged to community-based organizations and 66 people worked independently. Social security affiliation, fulfillment of basic needs, work satisfaction, access to training activities and periodic provision of work supplies presented differences according to group (p < 0.05). The biological risks, associated with inadequate body postures, and physical and chemical risks had a particular frequency of exposure according to group. The knowledge and use of safety measures for occupational risks differed statistically among the analyzed groups (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Recyclers are a potential support to integral waste management in rural areas of Medellin, although the informal nature of their work exposes them to working conditions that directly affect their health and the health of their families. The social recognition of recycling goes hand in hand with the improvement in the working conditions of the people engaged in this activity. The environmental recycling workers, even if belonging to a union, have precarious work and health conditions. The transformation of these conditions should be one of the State's priorities.
Keywords : Rural Workers; Solid Waste Segregators; Recycling; Occupational Risks; Working Conditions; Occupational Health; Cross-Sectional Studies.