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Working conditions and stress factors in eucalyptus foresters

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TEIXEIRA, Paulo Tadeu Ferreira [1]

TEIXEIRA, Paulo Tadeu Ferreira. Working conditions and stress factors in eucalyptus foresters. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 03, Vol. 01, pp. 109-122. March 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


This research presents an overview of rural workers who develop activity in the context of eucalyptus forestry and the impact of work stress triggered by the scenario where they are inserted. It is believed that stress among rural workers presents at all times the reduction of quality of life, low productivity, growth of absenteeism, impoverishment in the intra- and interpersonal relationships of workers, emotional instability and represents a high cost for companies. This article is a qualitative, descriptive and exploratory research, with the objective of describing the work environment of foresters and the relationships of stress at work. The factors causing stress present physical, psychological aspects and encompass the social context.

Keywords: Rural workers, work stress, low productivity.


The capacity for the development of work exercise is a broad construct, several studies point to the diverse perceptions of researchers in this view. The possible precariousness faced in the work environment and the pressures suffered by workers and the physical and mental exhaustion of workers caused by the stress phenomenon continue to be given for several studies.

The theme of stress has aroused the interest of researchers and increased the number of publications since the 1980s. Work stress, nowadays, is one of the most discussed topics in the media due to the physical and emotional exhaustion that many workers develop during the fast work rhythm and/or inadequate work environments. The work carried out by foresters in the rural environment daily needs to prepare the land, plant and harvest, sun exposure, noise, protective equipment for precarious work, possible risk of contact with venomous animals, often favors the development of stress and other psychic and physical diseases.

The term stress in English had its origin linked to the area of biology. Cannon and Selye studied the biological responses presented by animals when exposed to aversive or threatening situations (CARLSON, 1995). Cannon was responsible for the creation of the term homeotase, which means keeping the organism in a state of internal equilibrium (SELYE, 1982). Regarding the definition of stress, there is no consensus, there are several theoretical conceptions (CARLSON, 1995; LAZURUS, 1966; MILLS, 1985; SELYE, 1982; SISTO et al., 2007).

Knowing the impact of pressure on the work environment and the stressful sources of rural workers in the management of Eucalyptus ssp can elucidate the possible dangers in the execution of activities developed in forestry. To this end, this research verified the stressful repercussions on the work environment and the conceptions of work that harm the worker’s integrity in eucalyptus management.

In Brazil, individuals have an increasingly high level of stress, since the vast majority do not have knowledge of how to manage their sources of tension. Stress has consequences for the company: due to excessive delay and absences; increase in medical leave; work accident; high turnover; uneven performance; absenteeism among others. It is emphasized that occupational stress occurs when the individual cannot meet the demands requested by his/her work, triggering psychic suffering, behavior changes, sleep impairment and negative feelings, emphasizing that the environment where the individual is inserted is considered a possible source of stress (LIPP, 2014).

This article is a qualitative, descriptive and exploratory research, with the objective of describing the work environment of foresters and the relationships of stress at work. Data available in the Ministry of Agriculture, legislation and safety at work, research on stress and articles published in the last decade were used, through health descriptors such as stress, worker health, forestry, among other combinations of words.



The reality of work today is observed that the lifestyle imposed on rural workers, in an attempt to adapt to the constant changes in work, has favored the triggering of physical and psychological exhaustion. The institutions in the contemporaneity develop the activities in the incessant search to achieve the established goals, but these pressures contribute to several situations that compromise the integrity of workers’ health the difficulties faced in this environment substantially reducing quality at work and life satisfaction, declining the creativity and productivity of workers within a company (LIPP , 2016).

The period of the Industrial Revolution was considered a time of labor pressures, many difficulties and insatisfactory and lack of adequate assistance for the worker, the conditions faced in the work space were classified as stressful, the workload of the service reached more than 15 hours a day and the employment of children in industrial production was observed in this period (SANCHES, 2016).

The reality in the work environment in postmodernity is marked by the concerns witnessed by workers, arising from insecurity, pressures and high productivity, which causes precarious labor conditions. These situations favor the triggering of psychic illness factors and the human inability to follow the new social and work reinsertions imposed on workers (LINHARES and SIQUEIRA, 2014).

The man in the past and currently still develops his work to ensure his consumption as: clothing, family maintenance, housing and food. Later, it came to slavery, servitude, the employment contract and, finally, the Consolidation of Labor Laws – CLT, guarantees that transformed the labor scenario softening the concerns of Brazilian workers. These factors are relevant for the promotion of safety to the permanence of the worker and to sustain the basic needs of his family, in the midst of the capitalist system (SANCHES, 2016).For Bastos and Rifano (2017), they believe that the manifestations of physical and mental suffering of rural workers still have an invisibility in society, need new perspectives for this working class to the point of reinforcing the relevance of the service developed.

According to Lancman et al. (2016), states that the occupation of work is interpreted as not only the act of working or the demand for remuneration. To perceive the need for the recognition of the service developed, as an individual and social being, thus contributing to the worker’s perceived inclusion within a group context of acceptance and valorization of his labor force and expansion of access to social services.

According to Dimenstein et al. (2017), guide that the precariousness faced in rural areas, is often associated with the state of poverty and poverty, high vulnerability, work pressures, socioeconomic indicators indicate that life in the countryside brings as very accentuated characteristics, such as: high levels of illiteracy, lack of food, unhealthiness, lack of adequate assistance and health, ignorance of labor laws and increasing dependence on income transfer programs.

Eucalyptus is a well-known plant, native to the continent of Oceania. The growth of eucalyptus culture in other areas occurred only from the 19th century, when its culture was established throughout Europe, passing through the United States and arriving in Brazil in 1968 through Mr. Frederico de Albuquerque, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (ANDRADE and VECCHI, 1918).

In the world, about 90 countries employ eucalyptus in commercial plantations, with its wood as a raw material intended for the supply of the energy sector and for industrial purposes (MOURA and GUIMARÃES, 2003). In Brazil, forest crops with the genus Eucaliptus occupy approximately 5.10 million hectares, with the highest concentration of planted area in the states of MG, SP, BA and MS, which together make up 72% of the total, with Bahia in third place. There has been a considerable increase in the planted area, reaching more than 36% in 6 years, an average growth of about 6% per year.

The mapping of planted eucalyptus forests is a fundamental work to guide strategic planning, provide accurate information for public and private initiative, to define public policies aimed at the sector and even serve as a technical basis to attract new investors to the national forestry sector. Biomass from eucalyptus is cultivated for various purposes, being used for the production of paper, cellulose, charcoal, reconstituted wood panels, sawmill, poles, oils for pharmaceutical industries, cosmetics, honey, ornamentation and windbreak (SANTOS et al., 2001).

Due to its rapid growth and high productivity, it is observed that eucalyptus plantations stand out among the planted forests, and therefore this native wood is considered a great alternative for timber production in Brazil (RAMOS et al., 2011).

In 2010, the Brazilian Association of Planted Forest Producers (2013) identified that the area occupied by eucalyptus forest plantations in Brazil comprised a total of 4,754,334 hectares, with a growth of about 5.3% of forested area compared to the previous year, with the state of Minas Gerais being the largest planted area and the largest charcoal steel park in the country.

The Regulatory Standards – NR, are norms that deal with the set of conditions and methods related to safety, rights and occupational medicine, thus contributing to the labor environments become something mandatory to private, public and government agencies that have employees governed by the Consolidation of Labor Laws – CLT. (SESMT, 2012).

According to Macedo, 2012 currently the NRs total 33, in addition to the five NRRs, which are combined with other technical standards postulated in the CLT, function as a basic component for the practice and exercise of occupational hygiene and safety in companies and in rural areas.

Regulatory Standard 31 presents the theme related to safety and health at work in agriculture, livestock, forestry, forestry, forest exploitation, among others being defined by: constitute the standards to be observed in the work environment, in order to make compatible the plan and development of activities of agriculture, livestock, forestry, among others together safety, health in the context of work (ARAÚJO , 2013).


It is known that rural workers perform their activities in localities often distant from urban daily life, which is one of the possible factors that isolated from social life and, consequently, leads to the development of various psychological manifestations. It can be observed that the process of stress in the work context is approached to put different perceptions and theoretical analysis, thus presenting several different interpretations and forms of classification. Stress is perceived as a stimulus, triggering a response to the event or result of mutual influence between them (BARROS, 2013).

Scopinho (2010), reports that the historical socio-process of Brazil in the rural scenario is perceived by the precarious labor conditions of this environment, significantly influencing the living, health and productivity conditions of these workers. In some locations in Brazil, the emergence and transformations of technology present a distancing from the reality of many rural workers, thus triggering a state of vulnerability and distancing from the work process. Relationships in workers’ health can often be associated with low conditions in the work space, precarious care by employers and lack of social support.

It is observed in the context of the rural countryside that the intimate relationship with harmful factors such as: pesticides, noise, high temperature lack of adequate PPE, low pay and other points inherent to agrarian work, contribute negatively to the growth of the precariousness of the health and social services of such workers (MOREIRA et al., 2015).

According to Alves (2007), he states that the work developed in crops often demands an exhaustive pace of work where it requires extreme manual force and manual provisions with the technical tools of this context such as: the machete, the pruning, among other rural instruments. The worker develops an exhaustive and stressful routine where he faces daily charges and has to correspond to the prescribed work rhythm, follow the productivity pace and face the unhealthy scenarios found in this work environment.

Of the numerous occupational risks recurrent in the field of work, stress is observed in several studies, it is perceived that it interferes significantly in the productivity of production and contributes drastically to the risk of accidents at work, occupational diseases and may cause death (LINDSLEY; CADORETTE, 2015).

During the sensations of stress it is common for people to identify changes in behavior, some manifestations trigger harmful effects that contribute negatively to emotions, decline in metabolism and significant reduction in labor productivity, it is observed that stress factors are averse to good human physiological performance (SOUSA, 2017).

Ferraz (2014) reports that through several studies, stress is recorded as a multidimensional phenomenon and not necessarily a disease.Stress is a state of the body that when subjected to exertion and tension presents an initially physiological response that will reflect on the emotional, manifesting in a stressful situation, the physicist presents normal chemical reactions that prepare the body to trigger the response to such an act.

It can be verified in research that several factors contribute to the implications on the integrity of mental health are: financial dissatisfaction, social isolation, environmental pressure, excessive workload, distancing from family members and precariousness of laws of assistance to these workers, among others. Thus, one of the numerous occupational stress problems in workers who develop activity in the rural environment (POLETTO, 2009).

Barros (2013), reports that the long day of service, the exhaustive day-to-day activities, the concern about low pay, insecurity and the possible fear of being fired the lack of encouragement and support of supervisors, lack of adequate management, pressure for productivity, harmful environmental and high dangerousness, constant noise, low or high temperature, physical and mental fatigue , flexibility of weekly working hours temporary interruptions, constant change of function, temporal unemployment or daily conflicts at work and unnecessary procedures.

The activity developed in many rural crops, such as sugarcane, eucalyptus, among other productivity crops, is characterized as a possible environment harmful to workers’ health, because through sun exposure, polluted environment, environmental pressures, water scarcity, exposure to contaminated soils and the presence of venomous animals, precariousness or lack of personal protective equipment and the constant risk of work accidents due to the handling of rural instruments (ROCHA; MARZIALE; ROBAZZI, 2007).

The demands faced in the context of work by the field worker and the precariousness faced in the work environment, favors that this public is always vulnerable to develop various diseases in the physical and mental spheres. The harmful factors found in the rural scenario can aggravate their integrity and reflect the low productivity of these workers, the low productivity at work and the socioeconomic factor and lifestyle reflect drastically in the health of rural workers and that are difficulty observed in surveys in several studies, as a way of promoting quality of life and preventive measures to be adopted health to these workers (VIERO et al. , 2016).

According to Beck, et al 2016, the consumption of some psychoactive substances such as alcohol use among the rural workers community is often interpreted as a response to stress developed in the work environment, consumption is often developed when there is a possible emotional discomfort and the management adopted for this confrontation can lead to the use of substance to mitigate work stress. Observing this behavior developed as an intermediate variable between perceived stress and its implications, alcohol use can be interpreted as a possible job dissatisfaction.

Preventive measures that may not be adopted by rural workers often stem from ignorance about their rights and the difficulty of information on technical assistance, low schooling and health care. When it comes to the issue of the mental health of workers in Brazilian legislation, it is observed that little attention has been given to the subject, there are many gaps left (ALMEIDA, 2016).

The instability faced by many workers in the workspace often contributes to the growth of insecurity, emotional instability and the fear of functional loss of self and family provider. Currently, it is understood that many work spaces provide few prospects of financial stability to employees, where many perceive themselves pressured by employers (PEREIRA and MELLO, 2016).

According to Sousa (2017), the stressors identified in the work environment are triggered by the environment itself where stress-causing stimuli are found, triggering consequences to the body and in the emotional sphere. There are many paradoxes within many organizations today, which sometimes depart from the employee’s perspectives, as many crave the opportunity for personal growth and development of skills and abilities, but what is observed are insecurity, dissatisfaction and often pressures for productivity.

Prado (2016) states that there are several causalities of stress in the work context, such as: social, economic, technological; the possible decrease in social interaction; adopted criteria of social inclusion and exclusion; inadequate physical environment; change in working hours; lack of opportunity for progress. The factors causing stress present physical, psychological aspects and encompass the social context.

Research on the rural worker’s context is growing each year, and studies aimed at the diagnoses of mental problems among this public are also identified. According to the International Classification of Diseases (WHO – ICD-11), mental disorders involve a set of syndromes that are characterized by significant changes of a person in the scope of cognition, emotional regulation and behavior, integrated to possible declines in the individual, family, social, educational, labor spheres (WHO – ICD-11, 2019).

The population living in the rural environment has different characteristics compared to the urban population, often starting with precarious health and other contexts such as: low education and wage income, difficult access of its residents to social services, health and commerce, among other factors.

Even if the health of the worker has been standardized by the SUS (Health Unic System) through the implementation of health policies, the way in which the attempt to implement was and has been effected, evidences an operative intention of little relevance, not being able to transform a proposal of articulation in the context of illness caused by work. Aguiar and Vasconcellos (2015) mention that, since the promulgation of the Federal Constitution in 1988, those responsible for the elaboration of public policies in the country have been concerned about the health of workers.


The concern with issues related to the themes about rural communities and their state of health, associated with the quality of life of the population, continues to be the subject of research worldwide. Further intervention research to prevent stress at work may improve the physical and mental health of workers who carry out activities in the field of eucalyptus forestry.

The results achieved in the research can serve as contributions to the elaboration of new reinsertion of strategies for the health of these workers, from prevention to aspects of access to health devices, starting to minimize the possible factors that trigger the emergence of stress to rural workers. Overcoming the limits discussed should serve as a guide for the expansion of new research and new strategies to cope with the stress of the studied public.

It is believed that stress among workers presents at all times the reduction of quality of life, low productivity, growth of absenteeism, impoverishment in the intra and interpersonal relationships of workers, emotional instability and represents a high cost for companies. It is observed that psychic illness transforms the construction of the social identity of these workers in the places of origin, directly impacting on their social relations.

To minimize the risk of stress in the work environment, some initiatives are recommended, such as: satisfactory working condition as an improvement in the physical environment; adequacy in the daily work scales, thus providing better living conditions inside and outside the work environment, contributing to the condition of care provided to the individual.


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[1] Master Of Technologies Applicable Bioenergy- FTC SSA. Post Graduated In Hospital Clinical Psychology – FSBA-SSA. Post Graduated In Neuropsychology -FACINTER PR. Graduated in Psychology – FTC ITABUNA.

Submitted: January 2021.

Approved: March, 2021.

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