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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1678-4464Print version ISSN 0102-311X


SCOPINHO, Rosemeire Aparecida; EID, Farid; VIAN, Carlos Eduardo de Freitas  and  SILVA, Paulo Roberto Correia da. New technologies and workers' health: mechanization of sugar cane harvesting. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 1999, vol.15, n.1, pp.147-162. ISSN 1678-4464.

In the context of reorganization of production in the sugar and alcohol industry, mechanization of sugar cane harvesting has been justified as a protective measure for the environment and workers. This article focuses on the consequences of organization of work in mechanization of sugar cane harvesting with regard to the harvester operators' health. Based on data gathered through interviews and direct observation at the workplace, changes implemented in the technological base and division of labor and organization were analyzed, identifying the work load inherent to the process and how it affects workers' health. While harvesters help decrease the physical, chemical, and mechanical work load, they increase the physiological and psychological work load. There is evidence of significant change in the pattern of work-related accidents, entailing a decrease in their frequency and increase in severity. The pattern of illness among harvester operators is similar to that of manual sugar cane cutters, with a highlight on psychosomatic illness related to the organization of work in shifts and increased tempo due to use of machinery.

Keywords : Occupational Health; Rural Workers; Mechanization; Epidemiology.

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