Out of a total of 390,000 workplace accidents registered in 2003, the sector where the highest number of accidents occurred was in healthcare with 23,000.
Various types of accidents can take place in healthcare. For example, between 1997 and 2004, there were over 15,000 accidents only in Rio de Janeiro involving biological material. Another serious problem is hospital infection.
The government is presently drawing up norms to reduce these accidents. The norms are scheduled to become law in August. Public hearings on the issue began in June and are still ongoing.
According to the president of the Brazilian Association for Accident Prevention (ABPA), Mauro Daffre, the norms will improve the quality of work which will translate into greater economy for hospitals and other healthcare institutions.
The number of workplace accidents in Brazil is underreported. According to Mario Bonciane, who directs the Department of Health and Safety at the Ministry of Labor, out of every 10 accidents, only 4 are registered with authorities.
Because it is concerned with this problem, the government drew up a national policy on workplace safety to be coordinated by the ministries of Health and Labor.
According to Maria Helena Guthier, a labor department lawyer, although Brazilian law protects worker rights on paper it is necessary to have more inspectors and lawyers to ensure that there is compliance.