Colombia says lax safety may have contributed to fatal Drummond coal accident

jueves 14 de mayo de 2015 16:31 GYT

BOGOTA May 14 (Reuters) - Colombia's second-biggest coal miner, U.S.-headquartered Drummond, failed to implement adequate health and safety practices prior to an accident in which two workers were killed when a cargo of coal was tipped on them, the Labor Ministry said.

The ministry said it will press administrative charges after finding lax procedures may have contributed to the March deaths of two workers when coal was poured into a loading pit that they were welding at Drummond's port.

"Drummond did not meet its obligation to establish and permanently carry out a program of occupational health and a workplace health and safety system which are presumably responsible for the risks in its working environment," the ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

A Drummond spokesman said the company had not yet been notified of the charges and so would not offer comment.

A labor ministry official who declined to be identified told Reuters that as it was an administrative rather than a criminal investigation, the company would most likely face a fine if it is confirmed that some safety norms were not heeded.

The case will be judged by two labor inspectors in a process that typically takes three to four months, the official said.

Drummond has been fined by the Colombian government on two other occasions in the last two years, once when a cargo of coal spilled from a barge into the sea in late 2012 and again in early 2014 for failing to comply with a new environmental law.

Colombia is the world's fourth biggest coal exporter. (Reporting by Peter Murphy)