A survey answered voluntarily from March 27 to April 29 by 2,575 Brazilian workers in essential services who are at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic reveals that 56% of female professionals are experiencing psychic suffering. Among men, the rate is 44%. Women, in fact, are 73% of those who responded to the survey - 83% of the total respondents are health professionals, 51% are from nursing professions and 61% are public servants.
These figures are part of a survey that is part of the "Safe Workers Save Lives" campaign launched on March 31 by Public Services International (PSI) and its affiliates in Brazil, whose objective is use information on working conditions to pressure public authorities and private employers to improve it. The answers are collected through an online survey - identification is not mandatory. Inspired by PSI’s global campaign, the initiative is driven by the organization's office in Brazil and several affiliated trade unions in this country.
"Psychic suffering of essential service workers in the context of a pandemic is probably related, among other factors, to the lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the lack of adequate training to cope with the outbreak. But the difference between the percentages of women and men is not surprising and we could analyze this issue on the basis of gender inequality: double - or triple - working hours for women, more precarious working relationships, lack of sharing of domestic tasks, women as heads of households and greater responsibilities, and moral and/or sexual harassment. Women professionals are the most affected by coronavirus, either physically - because they are a majority in the health sector, for example - or psychologically, because of these issues I just mentioned," says Denise Motta Dau, PSI's sub-regional secretary for Brazil.
The survey shows that the working and protection conditions of workers have not improved in relation to the first partial disclosed: 65% of the respondents continue to state that there are not enough PPEs in the workplace for proper exchange and sanitization, while 69% of the health professionals inform that they have not had adequate training on the protocols of care provided to the population as well as the use of equipment.
Other alarming data is that a third of professionals (35%) have had journeys of 12 hours or more in recent weeks and 21% have used public transport to go to work - that is, they have an additional risk of contamination. Moreover, in 93% of cases, no accommodation is being offered to workers who cannot return to their homes in order not to contaminate family members who are from risk groups.