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Occupational Health and Safety

Our Management: life in first place

Vale’s health and safety strategy supports our commitment to life matters most. Consists on the application of techniques to fully identify hazards and assess risks and to effectively manage barriers to prevent and mitigate them.

We also invest in innovative technologies that enable the elimination of the hazards inherent to mining activities.

As part of this ongoing effort, the organization periodically develops actions and programs that promote the behavioral aspects related to the safety culture. Examples we may mention include Reflection Day, which invites people to reflect on the accidents that have occurred in the current year; and Health Week, which addresses eating habits and ways of preventing problems such as stress.

Safety and Operational Excellence Executive Area  

As part of a wide-reaching review of governance, in 2019, the company implanted the Safety and Operational Excellence Executive Officer, which acts as the second line of defense, regardless of the existing operational risk management and geo-technical areas.

The diverse attributions of this new area include the establishment of policies and technical guidelines for managing safety and risks as part of the Vale Production System (VPS).

The VPS is aimed at strengthening the company’s organizational culture by means of people development, allied with the standardization of best practices, operational discipline and the reinforcement of routine activities.

This is a set of methods, techniques and tools in constant evolution - which are enhanced based on company experience. The VPS is adopted and enforced globally in the Vale operational and administrative areas.

The Vale management model, known as VPS (Vale Production System), is focused on results and provides a profound and comprehensive policies and practices implementation to enable safe and environmentally responsible operations and ensure the integrity of our assets. The VPS consists of 3 dimensions: Leadership, Technical and Method, which have 17 elements. Each element of this guide presents the minimum compliance requirements.

Health, Safety and Operational Risk 

Vale’s goal is to fully eliminate fatalities and changed lives. Accordingly, the company has defined three targets:


2020 – Prevention of catastrophic accidents by means of immediate actions detected in Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis (HIRA)

By 2025 – Eliminate high potential recordable injuries

By 2025 – Halve the number of exposures to agents harmful to health in the work environment.

Vale´s health, safety and operational risk strategy is based on three pillars:

Actions and programs

Vale’s health, safety and operational risk management processes are incorporated into its production system (VPS), which establishes policies, principles, criteria and procedures for managing the hazards and risks associated with our activities, products or services.

The VPS is fully aligned with the ISO 45001 standard, which governs Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System, and contains technical, management and leadership requirements aligned with the PDCA Cycle model (Planning, Execution, Verification and Action).

Our measures:

Vision of Risks

The comprehension of risks helps in the planning, development and implantation of stable operations, favoring the effective allocation of resources and contributing to profitable long-term operations that are free of incidents.

The assessment of risks associated with the company’s operations and activities address three main questions at a level of detail compatible the objectives of the analysis:

  • What could go wrong?
  • How bad could it be?
  • How often could it happen?

The answers to these key questions enable a more effective decision-making process regarding the measures necessary to eliminate, reduce or control the risks.

Methodologies and mapping

HIRA - Risk Mapping and Analysis

A mapping exercise that identifies hazards and analyzes risks, HIRA describes accident scenarios, the existing protections and the criticality of risks for people, the environment, assets and for the business. Its objectives are:

  • To identify severe or extensive operational safety risks;
  • To identify and define performance criteria;
  • To establish the guarantee of associated critical controls.

Safe Work Permit (SWP)

In force since May 1 2020, as part of the Vale initiatives to reinforce safety, the Safe Work Permit, also known as “Contract for Life”, is a new operational process which places people at the center of all decisions by focusing on the reduction of high exposure incidents.

Critical Activity Requirements (CAR)

The CAR is designed to preserve people’s lives during the execution of activities classified as critical.

This classification is based on the records of fatalities and severe accidents occurred within the company and in the mining sector as a whole.

Below there is a list of activities identified as being high risk for the safety of Vale employees:

  • Working at height;
  • Motor vehicles;
  • Mobile equipment;
  • Lockout and tagout.
  • Lifting loads;
  • Confined spaces;
  • Protection of machines;
  • Soil stability;
  • Rock blasting – use of explosives;
  • Electricity;
  • Liquid metal.

Establish strategy to reduce the use of potentially hazardous substances in production processes

Vale, always seeking to be aligned with the best sustainability practices and aiming to ensure the safe use and ensuring specific controls for handling and use, to mitigate or eliminate impacts on employees' health and on the environment, elaborated a plan for reducing harmful substances in its operations.

​Before, management criteria and guidelines have been established to eliminate, control and minimize the risks of diseases and incidents to people, impacts on the environment and property associated with the use of chemicals, and also were defined, which products are prohibited and restricted for acquisition and use within Vale's areas, in accordance with international technical references and health, Safety and Environment legal requirements. Those lists of products which the use is prohibited or restricted in Vale are routinely updated and can be found on our website, Suppliers section:

As a result of this work, we have come over time identifying products which are dangerous and we have put in place some processes for their replacement/elimination. An example of success was the process of replacing Forane 141-B refrigerant gas (harmful to the ozone layer) by internal refrigeration system cleaner fluids in 2017, considered sustainable. More recently, we started the gradual replacement of other dangerous products used in our production processes: we started to use exclusively electronic initiators for detonation in rock blasting with explosives; we are replacing trichlorethylene-based glues in conveyor belt vulcanization processes in several operations; and we replaced liquid chlorine by sodium hypochlorite in the Cobalt Oxidation process at Port Colborn refinery in Canada, after an operational risk identification checking.

​In 2021, to make our activities even safer, we adopted a more proactive strategy, starting with a new mapping of potentially dangerous substances. We consolidated the chemicals used in Vale's various business units and identified, according to internal criteria, 7 groups of products whose use may represent health risks due to acute or chronic exposure or contamination of soil, air and water, although they are not prohibited or controlled by legislation.

​Based on the identified groups, the strategy of reducing the use of these substances consists in the search and identification of products on the market whose chemical compositions do not represent the dangers of current used products, with the ability to meet the technical requirements expected by the user areas. In some cases, it may be necessary to develop new products together with manufacturers. Thus, after technical evaluation and field tests to analyze the effectiveness of the product in our activities, if the new product is approved, the change management process will begin to ensure that all the ones involved are aware and trained to work properly with the new substances. After completing all the tests and formally presenting the substitution justifications, the reconfigurations will be carried out for the purchase and contracting of services that use these products, with the appropriate blocking and adjustments to guarantee sustainable purchases.

This plan will be consolidated into an agreed commitment with Vale’s management board, with clearly defined targets for reducing chemical risks from 2024. At this moment, we will have well-defined strategies by product and process, based on a more detailed identification from the analysis of inventories, external market trends, available technologies and internal assessments and analysis of operational risks.

While harmful substances and products are still in the process of being replaced or eliminated, Vale will continue to put into practice the guidelines established to mitigate chemical risks and environmental impacts. Our strategies are based on the concepts and criteria of GHS - Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals - which provides safety and better understanding by classifying hazards into physical, human health and environmental and establishing clear communication standards. In addition, the concepts of PSM - Process Safety Management - have also been put into practice as part of this strategy, taking into account the characteristics of mining processes, and absorbing the lessons learned and discoveries of the chemical industry.

The sub-processes of acquisition, transport, storage, internal transfer, handling, use, post-use and emergencies are standardized and are part of Vale's Management System, which includes the availability of safety information, prior evaluation of products, verification of compliance with legal requirements, inspections and audits, training of the personnel involved and other operational controls, such as the use of PPE, containments, exhausts, and the various maintenance of the respective assets and systems.

Promoting health and well-being

Reducing the AIDs epidemic, malaria and neglected tropical diseases

Reduce the HIV's epidemic, malaria and neglected tropical diseases

  • In Brazil, Vale assumed the full costs of examinations to detect the HIV virus when an employee requests them from occupational medicine physicians.
  • In Mozambique, we have an HIV policy that establishes principles to promote changes in behavior, access to methods of prevention and to combat the stigma and discrimination associated with the condition among workers.

Reduce premature mortality from non-transmissible diseases

  • We develop integrated preventive measures by means of programs to promote well-being and ones focused on physical and mental health, commitment, behavior and treatment of chronic diseases.
  • On a global level, depending on local needs, we conduct diverse campaigns, including vaccination, men’s and women’s health, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as programs for work place physiotherapy, accompaniment of mothers-to-be, employee assistance, promotion of physical activity, cardiovascular health (regarding the risks of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and smoking.)
  • We created the Minas por Mentes (Mines for Minds) program, aimed at promoting, maintaining and recuperating emotional health.

Reinforcing the prevention and treatment of chemical dependency

  • We have established specific procedures to mitigate the risks of working under the influence of psychoactive substances that jeopardize safety.
  • We provide information and educational measures on the abuse of these substances, with support for the treatment of dependency and return to work.
  • We undertake random toxicology tests on workers in accordance with ethical criteria using qualified professionals. The planning of the tests precludes the possibility of discrimination and is aimed at ensuring no work is done under the effects of psychoactive substances.

Reducing exposure to health risks

  • We have global guidelines for managing health risks related to occupational hygiene and ergonomics.
  • The organization has a global corporate for managing and preparing programs to track the occupational health of employees.
  • We have established quantitative targets for the reduction of health risk scenarios in the medium term.

Policies and Standards

Life in first place. This value underpins the commitments and results of Vale leaders in their efforts to achieve excellence in health and safety, in alignment with our Sustainability Policy and our Code of Conduct.

Guidelines on readiness and response to emergencies

Vale has enhanced its emergency response policies and procedures, developing a new standard with specific requirements based on the company’s Production System (VPS).

These requirements were developed based on practices recognized internationally by bodies such as the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and Public Safety Canada; by means of concepts such as Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (ICMM).

All the business units must comply with the guidelines, as well as with applicable local regulations.

The main points of this standard are as follow:

  • Establish a standard for managing emergencies in the Vale business units;
  • Establish emergency plans and procedures based on important and reliable scenarios;
  • Establish a minimum level of training for all individuals identified as having roles, responsibilities and skills required for emergency plans and procedures;
  • Establish training programs;
  • Establish and maintain the resources necessary for all emergency plans and procedures;
  • Charge the business units with the responsibility for developing and coordinating emergency response plans, ranging from crisis management to business continuity – in partnership with the competent local authorities and communities.

This new standard will interface with other processes, such as Crisis Management and Business Continuity, based on the risks associated with our activities and operations – or to minimize any kind of impact.

Golden Rule

We cannot ignore the fact that our working environments may expose employees to risks affecting their physical integrity.

For this reason, as a preventive and mitigating strategy, the company has implemented controls that are mandatory for all its employees.

The Golden Rules are health and safety standards which Vale workers (own employees and third-parties) are obliged to follow. They incorporate the basic requirements for the execution of any activity at Vale and do not substitute all other health and safety requirements.

In 2019, Vale unified the Golden Rules globally and tightened focus on the elimination/reduction of fatalities and high exposure incidents linked with the behavior of workers (own employees and third-parties), thus creating a culture characterized by operational discipline and conduct management.

Voluntary Initiatives

Measures to promote employee health. These initiatives are aimed at ensuring compliance with local requirements and with the global agenda of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding influenza, sexually transmitted diseases, mothers-to-be, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and mental health.

Vale health campaigns:

Global Internal Health Week

Global event with measures to raise awareness of questions related to promoting health and preventing diseases.

Global Internal Accident Prevention Week (Sipat in Portuguese acronym)

The goal is to underscore the importance of adopting safe behaviors, standardizing processes and applying learning to company routines, with a view to preventing the recurrence of incidents.

Reflection Day

A Vale engagement strategy based on direct communication and communication via leaders. On this day, we halt company activities worldwide to promote dialogue on health and safety. The objective is to increase employee awareness and encourage the adoption of a safety mindset in the workplace. Annual campaign.

Prevention of risks in the workplace and medical control of occupational health

This is mandatory program that involves periodic health checks, training in preventive measures, assessments of functional capacity, and preventive movements. We also apply global guidelines for managing health risks in the areas of occupational hygiene and ergonomics.

Mines for Minds

MINES initials carry the pillars of the program – Monitor, Intervene, Normalize, Encourage and Support

It is based on them that we structure our projects. The program is comprised of global and local corporate initiatives. Together, the actions aim to:

Speaking of actions and initiatives, see below how they relate to MINES:

Targets and deadlines

The targets associated with strategic health, safety and operational risk objectives are incorporated into the company’s variable demonstrated ahead.

In the event of a fatality, the indicators for the operation concerned are zeroed, with no bonus paid.


Analysis of indicators and internal audits

Vale measures and analyzes health, safety and operational risk indicators in accordance with the Routine Management element 14 in its Production System (VPS).

The objective is to engender and foster a culture of discipline, ensuring that all the areas analyze their indicators continuously, revealing problems, aligning priorities and taking the measures necessary to achieve the desired results.

Moreover, we conduct periodic internal audits with independent auditors, based on risk criteria defined both according to the nature of the activities and the level of maturity of the Health and Safety management system.

Any non-conformances identified are recorded in a specific digital system so that corrective action plans may be tracked and progress reported to senior management.

KPI Report

Find below, our pyramid and other incidents and information on our recordable injury rate (TRIFR) and LTIFR:

* 2021 indicators are from 01/01/2021 to 12/31/2021.

In 2020, the processes of incident’s management, unsafe conditions’ management and behavioral dialogues’ management at Vale underwent a simplification so, we started to monitor the numbers of high potential occurrences in an integrated manner, regardless of the record’s origin, which leads to the considerable increase in the amount of N3 from 2019 to 2020, since until 2019 the N3 indicator counted only incidents.

Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR):

Total amount of accountable occupational injuries that result in lost time per million hours of exposure. The occupational injuries occurring with direct and outsourced employees in controlled activities are considered that result in lost time.


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Austria 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 0.54 0.42 0.56 0.41
Canada 0.97 1.39 1.46 2.28​
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.22​
France 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
India 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Indonesia 0.15 0.05 0.09 0.06​
Japan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Malaysia 1.02 0.96 2.30 0.48​
Mozambique 0.22 0.31 0.05 0.47
Netherlands 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
New caledonia 1.81 5.60 13.32 10.80
Oman 0.72 0.23 0.22 0.23​
Paraguay 0.00 1.84 0.00 1.71​
Peru 0.39 0.00 0.00 0.00
Singapore 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Switzerland 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UAE 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UEA 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 2.56 2.30 0.00 0.00
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Uruguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 0.55 0.56 0.81 0.69​


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Austria 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 0.58 0.45 0.57 0.42
Canada 1.21 1.55 1.56 3.04
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
France 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
India 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Indonesia 0.00 0.15 0.30 0.00
Japan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Malaysia 1.19 1.21 5.65 1.18
Mozambique 0.22 0.31 0.14 0.26
Netherlands 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
New caledonia 2.11 5.87 17.69 8.90
Oman 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Paraguay 0.00 2.07 0.00 2.08
Peru 0.61 0.00 0.00 0.00
Singapore 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Switzerland 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UAE 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UEA 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 1.83 3.52 0.00 0.00
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Uruguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 0.61 0.65 0.95 0.77


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 0.49 0.39 0.54 0.41
Canada 0.61 1.05 1.31 1.35
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 23.97
Indonesia 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.11
Japan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Malaysia 0.89 0.79 0.00 0.00
Mozambique 0.34 0.38 0.00 0.59
New caledonia 1.48 5.28 9.54 12.81
Oman 1.09 0.35 0.33 0.35
Paraguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Peru 0.29 0.00 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 4.25 0.00 0.00 0.00
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 0.5 0.47 0.67 0.63

Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR):

Total amount of occupational injuries per million hours of exposure.
The occupational injuries occurring with direct and outsourced employees in controlled activities are considered that result in fatality, lost time, restriction of work, or medical treatment (not including first aid).


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Austria 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 1.32 1.39 2.63 1.22
Canada 11.92 12.71 10.29 7.54
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.22​
France 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
India 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Indonesia 0.92 0.55 0.52 0.57
Japan 0.00 0.00 5.35 0.00
Malaysia 1.53 1.44 3.22 0.48
Mozambique 1.70 0.98 0.65 1.09
Netherlands 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
New caledonia 5.05 9.90 27.88 24.90
Oman 1.68 0.46 1.11 0.70
Paraguay 0.00 3.68 3.36 1.71
Peru 0.97 5.74 0.00 0.00
Singapore 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Switzerland 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UAE 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UEA 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 6.41 2.30 0.00 1.22
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Uruguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 2.02 2.25 3.46 1.98


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Austria 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 1.35 1.35 2.50 1.06
Canada 15.50 13.22 14.03 8.20
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
France 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
India 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Indonesia 0.68 0.15 0.45 0.45
Japan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Malaysia 1,19 1,21 7,90 1,18
Mozambique 0,84 0,52 0,87 0,92
Netherlands 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
New caledonia 3,87 7,95 31,38 20.66
Oman 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Paraguay 0,00 4,14 3,75 2.08
Peru 1,21 0,00 0,00 0,00
Singapore 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Switzerland 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UAE 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
UEA 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 1.83 3.52 0.00 0.00
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Uruguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 2,38 2,47 3,05 1,97​


Vale 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Australia​ 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Brazil 1.28 1.43 2.78 1.34
Canada 6.55 11.69 8.00 6.74
Chile 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
China 0.00 0.00 0.00 23.97
Indonesia 1.06 0.76 0.55 0.66
Japan 0.00 0.00 47.89 0.00
Malaysia 1.78 1.59 0.00 0.00
Mozambique 2.17 1.23 0.55 1.19
New caledonia 6.31 12.19 24.85 29.38
Oman 2.55 0.71 1.66 1.06
Paraguay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Peru 0.86 9.58 0.00 0.00
United kingdom 8.50 0.00 0.00 2.86
United states 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 1.67 2.02 2.34 1.98

Business Case

Prevention of incapacity

The company has established global guidelines to actively prevent cases that result in the incapacity of Vale employees.

For Vale, incapacity is understood from a biopsychosocial perspective, that is, it focuses on the relationship between the disease and the capacity to work, considering the specific context of each individual and both individual and collective risk factors.

The objective is to promote healthy working conditions and to reduce absenteeism.


Risk factors that favor work and the recovery of working capacity are monitored. This monitoring occurs on three levels:

  • Primary – Accompaniment of collective risks;
  • Secondary – Employees at risk of sick leave;
  • Tertiary – Employees on sick leave or in the process of returning to work.

Main causes of sick leave

Musculoskeletal and mental disorders appear in first place both in Brazil and worldwide. It is important to understand that these disorders, even when not directly linked with working conditions, can generate prolonged absences and constitute barriers to the employee’s return to work or productive employment.

For this reason, management and monitoring together with a multidisciplinary approach (health, human resources and managers) are crucial in addressing these challenges.

Multidisciplinary committee

The directive on the prevention of incapacity also formalizes and institutes multidisciplinary committees, defining the roles and responsibilities of the diverse parties involved, and adopting common management indicators.

The combined use of tools, technology and processes is aimed at reducing sick leave, particularly when related to the aforementioned musculoskeletal, mental and behavioral disorders.

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