Human biopsychic nexus in the context of garbage collectors from an association in the city of Arapiraca-AL, Brazil

Diego de Oliveira Souza Lucas Barros dos Santos About the authors


The study aimed to analyze the human biopsychic nexus of recyclable material collectors in an association. This is a qualitative study, carried out in 2017, in the city of Arapiraca-AL, Brazil. From a semi-structured interview script, seven waste collectors were interviewed. The script covered four axes: sociodemographic, work process, consequences of the scavenging activity and general living conditions, making it possible to gather elements to analyze the “human biopsychic nexus” of this group, as proposed by Laurell and Noriega. We identified some of the workloads that the collectors are exposed to, such as the mechanical, psychological and physiological loads related to the organization of the work process. The phenomenon of “suffering normality” is among waste collectors, embodying a kind of pseudo-protection mechanism of the activity that, although it causes illness, offers them some sustenance. Biological loads were also identified by contact with contaminated material, sharps and insects. Workloads make up a broader process in which general living conditions enhance the process of wear and tear, as these collectors face social problems such as lack of sanitation, safety, health and education. Therefore, it is a “human biopsychic nexus” in which the disease overlaps with health.

garbage collectors; social conditions; occupational health

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