As of November 8, 2013, new Chilean regulations will go into effect regarding work performed at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above sea level. The preparation of a technical guide on this matter by the Ministry of Health is still pending.
On November 8, 2012, the Chilean Ministry of Health published Decree No. 28 which modifies Decree No. 594 of 1999 (regulations on health and basic environmental conditions in the workplace) and establishes a series of requirements that must be met for those Jobs that are performed at an altitude higher than 3,000 meters above sea level. These modifications will go into effect as of November 8, 2013.
At an altitude of more than 5,500 meters above sea level, in general terms, jobs may only be performed after justification, evaluation, and express authorization from the Health Authority.
Companies must adopt a series of measures in order to prevent risks when working for more than six months at an altitude higher than 3,000 but lower than 5,500 meters above sea level. This work must be done intermittently and with a minimum of 30% of this period in rotational shift systems involving breaks at low altitude.
These measures are:
- The implementation of a preventive program which informs workers about the specific risks of working at high altitude and hypobaria and its control measures.
- The incorporation of this risk in the Workplace Safety and Health Management System (future to the Special Regulations for Contractor and Subcontractor Companies.
- Annual theoretical-practical instruction about the risks and consequences of working at high altitudes and hypobaria.
In the case of workers who perform sporadic or specific tasks at an altitude of 3,000 meters or more, these must undergo an annual check-up.
Finally, these new regulations establish that all worksites located at an altitude of 3,000 meters or more must possess measures in order to alleviate hypobaria, oxygenation, humidification or conditions produced at said altitudes. In the case of worksites or workplaces that employ more than 50 total workers under any form of employment or contract, these must have an infirmary available during day and night shifts and, in some cases, an ambulance which is available 24/7.
The Ministry of Health has yet to prepare a Technical Guide on Workplace Exposure to Chronic Intermittent Hypobaria due to High Altitude, which will provide more