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ColoradoSPH Partners With One of Central America’s Largest Sugar Producers to Improve Farm Worker Health

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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.   

Researchers from ColoradoSPH's two centers will study and evaluate Pantaleon’s health promotion program in Guatemala and 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. 

The Center for Health, Work & Environment 

The Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health is one of six national Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® and one of 18 national centers for training occupational health and safety professionals. Our mission is to advance worker health, safety, and well-being. We educate future leaders, conduct research, and design practical solutions to occupational health and safety challenges with our partners. We use a Total Worker Health approach in all that we do, by prioritizing safety, first and foremost, while striving to improve overall worker health. For more information, please visit chwe.ucdenver.edu

Pantaleon Group 

After more than 160 years of operation, Pantaleon remains in the hands of the founding family and has turned into one of the most respected conglomerates in Central America. The group’s aim is to become one of the 10 most important players in the sugar industry by 2030. It will achieve this by adhering to its core principles: investing for the long term, abiding to our values, and attracting exceptional talent. Pantaleon owns six sugar mills in Latin America. It has operations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico and Brazil. Visit www.pantaleon.com.