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My name is Carola Ramírez Maldonado, I am 35 years old, and I am the Head of Risk Prevention for the maintenance and repair services contract for conveyor belts and coatings in the Chuquicamata division of CODELCO in Chile.
I’ve been working in mining since I was 23 years old. In 2014, I was introduced to the world of conveyor belts, a field that fascinated me from my very first day there due to its dynamics, complexity and camaraderie, challenging me every day to engage with the work and push myself further.
In January 2017, I was contacted by Continental ContiTech and asked to be part of a large team which was being set up for the new service in Chuquicamata. Happy and grateful for this opportunity, I joined the company feeling that leading the Risk Prevention department of one of the most critical mining activities would be a great challenge. The team was made up of Nilda, Cristian and David. I arrived at the workplace where there were just 3 women and 52 men. I began to get to know the staff, finding out about their personalities and what they like to do. We continued to put our security documenting system into place, and let our staff get to know it. They discovered new things every day, were participating more and were included more and more in the activities, allowing us to form a team.
As life would have it, and because of my colleagues’ professional development, our team began to change and little by little, new employees started working who fulfilled the profile that ContiTech needed. They were professionals who were committed to the workers and the sector. They were independent, had new ideas and strived to better themselves every day. In this way, Tamara Campusano joined in August 2017 and Makarena Aguayo joined on May 9, 2018, the same day as International Women’s Day. I felt that this was the last sign, as this was when I realized what we had created – “the first Risk Prevention department in Chile made up entirely of women (in conveyor systems)”.
We have managed to find our work-life balance. Tamara is married to Alejandro, and has two children, Agustina and Felipe, Nilda has a daughter, Balentina, and Makarena is developing her artistic talents in a famous local group from Batucadas. I am doing what I love most, exercising and studying to prepare myself even more for the challenges of our work. I’m currently studying for a diploma in Occupational Hygiene at the University of Chile, something which is allowing me to gain knowledge and is preparing me to be able to protect my workers from the occupational diseases that may come about in the future. This is a huge problem in Chile, as there is no general awareness yet that we must ensure that no harm comes to our staff.
In Chile we are developing two large areas of risk prevention, the first being safety. My colleagues and I prepare and plan our work according to the necessary maintenance. We visit other people in the field and advise them on how to complete the appropriate safety paperwork, advise them on how to maintain optimal working conditions and give motivational speeches about safety. Together with the supervisors, we train the workers in safe work procedures and check the compliance of the maintenance of the equipment, tools and vehicles. We also run powerful safety campaigns based on our observations in the field. The second area is Occupational Health. In this area we teach our workers about the government’s health protocols and hygiene risk maps. We also provide training, together with the Joint Committee (a team chosen by the workers, to promote risk prevention in the workplace), in the correct use of personal protection equipment. We study protective equipment according to the needs of the personnel, the workplace and the work that needs to be carried out.
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at ContiTech. We are setting an example for others to follow and we are connecting with other contracting companies.
So far, we’ve had good results, but we’ll never give up or surrender to fatigue. We need to continue to find the best options for our workers and continue to strive for perfection so that we don’t fall behind.
We must remember that in any field of our work, human resources are Continental ContiTech’s greatest treasure. Do not forget that it is our great responsibility to make sure that each and every one of the workers arrives home safely to their family every day.
So, dare to change, do not be afraid of the challenges that life throws at you. With your perseverance and hard work, you can achieve any goal you want to.