February 17, 2013

Cerrejón’s safety and health management system

    • Cerrejón has the lowest injury rate out of 86 national companies according to a study by the University of Rosario.
    • More than 300 employees at Cerrejón are dedicated to safeguarding optimal health and safety conditions for workers.
    • Cerrejón invested USD 8.9 million in health and safety in 2012.


    In response to the disinformation campaign launched by Sintracarbón against Cerrejón in regard to the occupational health and safety of its workers, the company would like to state that:

    For nearly three decades, Cerrejón has organized and implemented a rigorous policy of health and safety in the workplace that provides employees and contractors optimal health and safety conditions in their jobs, preventing any risk associated with the operation through effective controls.


    • Cerrejón has a Health and Safety in the Workplace Management System, organized jointly with our workers.
    • This system is supported by nearly 300 professionals specialized in medicine, occupational health, or related sciences who provide services benefiting Cerrejón’s workers.
    • For over 26 years, Cerrejón has used the methodology of Similar Exposure Groups (SEGs) for the management of our Workplace Safety System. The government just recently recommended this methodology be used in Colombia.
    • Investment in workplace health and safety in 2012 exceeded USD 8.9 million.


    Over the course of its history, Cerrejón has operated its workplace health and safety and its environmental impact management at the highest global standards. These efforts have won us national and international recognition.


    • Cerrejón has received several awards acknowledging its management to benefit worker health and safety.
    • In order to ensure an accident-free operation protecting workers’ lives, the company applies and complies with the requirements of the ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 Standards. It has been certified and recertified without a break since 2003. The most recent certification was in 2012.


    Cerrejón has a very low occupational disease rate. In fact, it is the lowest in the country, the lowest in the international mining sector, and the lowest in the Colombian mines and quarries sector.


    • Cerrejón’s Occupational Disease Rate (number of cases per 100,000 workers) is significantly lower than the national average and lower than the mines and quarries sector. In Colombia, an average of 121.5 workers fall ill out of every 100,000, a figure that rises to 242.6 in the national mines and quarries sector. However, at Cerrejón the rate is only 98 workers out of every 100,000.
    • In 2010, Cerrejón obtained the best results as regards the lowest rates in incapacitating and total injury frequency in a national study by the Colombian University of Rosario covering 86 companies in different economic sectors.
    • No employee works in areas where the permissible exposure limits for particulate matter are exceeded. In addition, no Cerrejón worker is exposed to any hazardous agents above the maximum permissible limits after taking into account personal protective equipment.
    • Nine out of ten cases of health-related leave at Cerrejón in 2012 were due to common causes unrelated to work.
    • Over the course of 30 years, the appropriate authorities have reported 77 cases of occupational disease in Cerrejón workers. In all cases, the workers have received medical assistance and economic aid from the respective social security entities.
    • It is worth noting that no Cerrejón worker has ever died as a result of an occupational disease.
    • Musculoskeletal disorders (problems with the back, neck, shoulders, etc.) are the most common ailments among Cerrejón workers, which is in line with trends worldwide. It should be mentioned that, although there are work conditions that can be associated with these health conditions, there are also other individual conditions associated with them, such as obesity and sedentary habits.


    Cerrejón workers participate in the following ways regarding health topics to contribute to improving our workplace health and safety programs.


    • It is the responsibility of health insurance companies (EPS, its acronym in Spanish), pension fund administrators (AFP, its acronym in Spanish), and occupational risk management (ARL, its acronym in Spanish) to classify disease origins. However, Cerrejón has continually promoted work sessions with the participation of these social security entities and Sintracarbón representatives to ensure the timely discussion of cases and cooperation with regional boards and the National Disability Board, which are responsible for the final classification of disease origins in case of disagreement between these entities.
    • Through joint work between the Occupational Workers Healthcare Committee (COPASO) and the Sintracarbón Health Committee, a comprehensive chemical risk management system has been implemented to identify, assess, and control all chemical contaminants used in Cerrejón’s activities with the aim of decreasing and controlling potential health impacts.
    • Cerrejón has developed Epidemiological Surveillance Systems (ESS) to control and prevent negative health impacts for employees. Among other things, the ESS are used to prevent psychosocial risk factors, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss problems, respiratory diseases, and chemical hazards.


    Cerrejón has a Complaints Office for the timely, efficient, participatory, and transparent management of any concern voiced by workers, contractors, or community members due to possible impacts by the mining operation, including those related to health.  In a study by CSR Europe, Cerrejón’s Complaints Office received 34 points out of 40, which placed it above the other 14 companies assessed.