The Center for Health, Work & Environment and the Center for Global Health at the Colorado School of Public Health announced a new partnership with Pantaleon, one of the largest sugar producers in Central America, to further understand the health risks of sugar cane workers and improve prevention efforts.
The study will evaluate Pantaleon’s health promotion program in Guatemala and researchers will offer recommendations to the company based on their findings. The team is initially focusing on improving current health and safety practices and understanding how to reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease, an illness commonly found in workers performing strenuous labor in hot climates.
With growing international concerns about the impact of heat stress and climate change on farm workers, researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health hope the findings of this investigation will help protect not only Pantaleon’s nearly 30,000 workers but potentially millions of workers worldwide.
“Agricultural workers have always had an unacceptably high risk for work-related injuries and illness. Now the stakes are even higher because of rising global temperatures and increasing rates of chronic illness,” said Dr. Lee Newman, director of the Center for Work, Health and Environment and professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz. “We are excited to work with companies like Pantaleon that show a commitment to improving worker safety, health, and well-being. What we learn here has the potential to help workers back in the U.S. and abroad,” he added.
Over the last 15 years, Pantaleon has prioritized worker health as part of their sustainability goals and has adjusted its policies and practices overtime in response to calls from clients, stakeholders, and the public. Pantaleon’s health promotion program began in 2002 and in November of last year, the group sought out assistance from experts at the Colorado School of Public Health to evaluate and further improve their worker health and safety program.