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Association of occupation and safety practices with work-injury absence among public hospital employees in Latin America: a study from Costa Rica
  1. David Gimeno1,2,
  2. Sarah A Felknor2,
  3. Keith D Burau2,
  4. George L Delclos2,3,
  5. Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutiérrez2
  1. 1International Institute for Society and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL Medical School, London, UK
  2. 2Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Health Science Center at Houston, Texas, USA
  3. 3Occupational Health Research Unit, Department of Experimental Sciences and Health, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S A Felknor
 Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Health Science Center at Houston, PO Box 20186, Houston, TX 77225-0186, USA;


Background: Injury-related statistics in developing countries are rare.

Objective: To assess the relationship between occupational and safety-related risk factors and absences from work during the preceding 6 months due to work-related injury among public hospital employees in Costa Rica.

Methods: Data were used from a cross-sectional survey conducted in December 2000 among a stratified random sample of 1000 employees from 10 of the 29 public hospitals in Costa Rica. The questionnaire included sociodemographic data, occupational exposures, and organizational risk factors. A dichotomous variable was created to indicate work-injury absence. At-risk employees (n = 466) were classified as having had a work-injury absence if they reported having been absent for at least 1 day in the preceding 6 months because of a work-related injury. OR and 95% CI were calculated using unconditional logistic regression models.

Results: There is a greater likelihood of injury-related absence in non-professional occupational positions (ie, auxiliary personnel (OR = 2.29) and general services employees (OR = 5.55)) than in professional positions, and in employees who show poor compliance with safety practices (OR = 2.03) and have high interference from their job task (OR = 3.79) compared with their counterparts.

Conclusions: Work-injury absence appears not only to be a function of work injury, but also a function of occupation and degree of compliance with safety practices.

  • absenteeism
  • safety practices
  • safety climate
  • work organization
  • developing countries
  • healthcare workers

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  • Competing interests: None.