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Mining Companies Urged To Step Up COVID-19 Protections For FIFO Workers

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Mining companies are being asked to step up their coronavirus protections for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers, staff in mining camps and remote and regional resource communities.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said all state, territory and national resources ministers had agreed that the resources sector was essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy.

“However, public safety is our number one priority and we need everyone in the community, in business and in industry to play their part,” he said.

“That’s why the Queensland Government has been discussing FIFO with resources companies for more than a week, and I’ve also been talking to the Federal Resources Minister.

“Resource companies have been engaging with the Queensland and Federal Government and are alert to these issues.

“We expect that all companies will continue to improve their operations and constructively engage with stakeholders, including workers and the local councils.”

The Chief Health Officer has asked resources companies to follow the public health protocols issued to date so that workers and communities are safe.

Extra precautions have been asked for workers in camps and those on the move, whether FIFO or drive-In, drive-out (DIDO).

In camps:

  • infection control in kitchens and food preparation areas.
  • suitable accommodation for self-quarantine
  • maintaining social distancing in camps, including for recreational activities, including outdoor sport
  • limiting movement of workers from camps and into the broader community
  • no more ‘hot bedding’ to limit contact between employees
  • cleaning each room thoroughly between uses, including changing and washing linen.

On transport:

  • avoiding close contact during transport, including reducing the numbers of people travelling on buses and aircraft.
  • thorough cleans between passenger loads getting off, and those getting on
  • temperature testing at airports for passengers boarding aircraft
  • people with symptoms not travelling, and to immediately isolate, and seek medical advice.
  • reducing FIFO and DIDO during the COVID-19 to minimise the mass movement of people.
  • All mines in Queensland are being asked to provide a COVID plan that covers their workers.

Companies will be required to submit specific plans to Queensland Health about interstate worker procedures.

Meantime, BHP said it continues to implement a wide range of stringent measures across its operated assets to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among its workforce and local communities, and to keep its operations up and running.

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FIFO workers at Moranbah Airport.  Image Credit: BHP

BHP’s Group HSE Officer Rob Telford said: “Our first priority is the health and safety of our people, their families and their local communities. The safe continuation of BHP’s operations is, in turn, critical for jobs and local economies in the many communities and countries where we operate.”

“The nature of mining and petroleum operations is such that many of our people don’t have the opportunity to work from home, but with the controls we’re implementing we are confident that our workplaces are safe.

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FIFO workers at Moranbah Airport.  Image Credit: BHP

“As a minimum, the controls we have in place follow guidelines from relevant governments, world experts and health authorities, BHP’s continuous risk assessments, and specialist health advice. We continue to monitor expert advice on a daily basis to gain further insights and enhance our approach.

“We are working to implement further controls at our operated sites and offices in real time against a fast moving backdrop, and we are working hard to make sure we have the necessary supplies and equipment to maintain safe and healthy working areas for our people.

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FIFO workers at Moranbah Airport.  Image Credit: BHP

“We are conducting regular audits to understand the effectiveness of the controls, obtain
feedback and determine additional measures or improvements that are required. We will
continue to do this for the duration.”

Summary of measures and controls being implemented

*Measures and controls are being applied at BHP locations based on local requirements.

BHP will continue to evolve its approach in real time and in line with expert advice.

Social distancing

 Social distancing, or physical distancing, requirements are in place at all BHP
locations and stipulate individuals should remain an appropriate distance apart as per
health and safety guidelines. This applies to sites, camps and offices, and is being
worked through for transport. Social distancing is being reinforced daily. Traditional
greetings such as handshakes are no longer used.

 Gatherings of people are limited as much as possible and conducted in line with
social distancing requirements, for example pre-start meetings at operational sites.

Hygiene

 Increased cleaning at all sites and offices, plus regular testing of workplace
cleanliness and hygiene standards.

 Clear and regular communication about the strict hygiene protocols in place at all
operational sites and offices. This includes hand washing, sanitation, food and drinks.

Travel

 BHP has banned international business travel globally.
 Domestic and international commuting continues in a limited manner in line withvcountry-specific advice.

 Protocols such as flexible rostering have been introduced to support workforcevrequirements.

 Numbers of people on planes, buses and in vehicles are reduced to meet social
distancing recommendations. For example, not seating people next to each other and
formations that extend the distance between people.

 Temperature checks and three-question surveys before boarding BHP operated
planes and buses, to assess individuals’ health.

 Vehicles cleaned and sanitised between trips.

Where state or national borders have closed

 Flexible shift and rostering arrangements are in place to accommodate self-isolation
and work requirements, and to help manage workflow over an expected period of
prolonged border restrictions.

 Working with people to relocate for periods of time to comply with cross-border
restrictions or quarantine requirements. For example, some tug boat pilots who
normally reside in Tasmania have relocated with their families to Western Australia.

Operational sites

 BHP has reduced the number of people at mine sites and other operational facilities
to business critical employees and contractors only.

 All non-essential visits and meetings at operational sites are being rescheduled,
cancelled or undertaken via virtual platforms.

 Heavy equipment, trucks and light vehicles have increased personal hygiene
protocols, and are equipped with appropriate cleaning agents.

 Cleaning protocols on site have increased on handrails, walkways, meeting rooms
and crib rooms. This includes deep cleaning where possible.

 In Chile, BHP is restricting site entry for contract partners for an interim period of 15
days to help slow the spread. BHP will cover the costs of this measure. In addition,
BHP will defer services that are not considered urgent or a priority.

 Pre-start and other essential meetings are conducted outside where possible, and in
line with social distance requirements.

 For any meetings held inside, room capacity has been reduced and seating and floor
marks have been added to reinforce appropriate social distancing.

 Daily messages from leaders with the latest advice from relevant authorities and BHP
leadership on operating in line with health protocols.

This includes:

o Practice good hygiene, wash hands with soap, more regularly and avoidvtouching the face.
o Use santisers, gloves and other protective gear where advised.
o Wipe down equipment with disinfectant.

 Leader messages reinforced with regular reminders and with health advice from team
leaders, flyers, notices, FAQs and other materials in workspaces and in crib rooms.

Accommodation camps

 Dining hall opening times have been extended to reduce the number of people dining
at any one time. Seating has been arranged to maintain appropriate social distancing.

 Take-away and pre-packaged food options have been increased, along with pre-
packaged condiments and utensils.

 The use of gloves is now required in some common areas.

 Increased cleaning of camp accommodation.

 Some camp facilities have been closed (barbecue areas and gyms) while other
communal areas have been adapted to adhere to social distancing requirements.

In offices

 In-person meetings with external stakeholders postponed, cancelled or conducted
through technology.

 BHP has implemented roster systems to support office-based roles that are essential
to business continuity, for example remote operating centres. People are encouraged
to work from home wherever possible.

 All office equipment, handrails, desks are cleaned more frequently and deep cleans
are conducted regularly, including between weekly change-overs.

 Meeting room capacity has been reduced and seating and appropriate controls in
place to appropriate social distancing.

 All offices have increased personal hygiene protocols and hand sanitiser stations.

 Offices remain closed in locations where authorities have mandated that employees
work remotely. Technology systems are currently working well to support this.
Monitoring and managing wellness
 Emphasising personal responsibility to inform and self-isolate immediately if suddenly
feeling unwell.

 Dedicated areas at each site for urgent isolation and medical attention if required.

 BHP recognises there are higher risk demographics, for example due to medical
conditions or age. Where required, we are putting extra controls in place appropriate
with individual risk profiles.

 BHP made the decision last week to postpone all face-to-face engagements with
Traditional Owner groups until further notice to minimise the risk of COVID-19
exposure to Indigenous communities.

 Resources to support mental health and resilience, including if working from home.

 At any time, employees, contractors and their families can access BHP’s EmployeevAssistance Program (EAP).

In the community

 Established a $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help regional Australian
communities in BHP’s areas of operation through support for health and community
services, mental health and resilience, Indigenous communities and job seekers.

 Accelerated payments to small, local and Indigenous suppliers in Australia to deliver
$100 million (AUD) more quickly to those businesses. In addition, small business
payment terms have been reduced to seven days (from 30 days).

 In Chile, BHP has shortened terms of payment for large providers (to 30 days), SMEs
(to 14 days) and to local companies from the Antofagasta and Tarapacá regions (to
seven days).

 BHP has created a $6 million fund to support labour hire companies and employees.
The fund will be used for one-off payments for people quarantined after entering
Australia and pay for those not entitled to sick leave but affected by COVID-19.

 BHP will hire an additional 1,500 people to support its workforce operating across
Australia. The roles will be offered as six-month contracts to cover a range of skills.

 Using BHP supply chain to supply food supplies to childcare centres, school canteens
and not for profit organisations.

 In Singapore, BHP has partnered with Project Dignity to supply meals to frontline
healthcare workers. Project Dignity provides employment for people with disabilities,
intellectual and social challenges.

 In Western Australia, BHP has donated $2 million (AUD) to the Royal Flying Doctor
Service to support regional health. This adds to donations from others in industry.

 In Western Australia, working with hospitals and ambulance services to replenish
medical supplies including masks, gowns and gloves.

 Supporting local Aboriginal organisations and services to assist people to return to
remote communities.

BHP will continue to work with those communities andvgovernment to ensure people have what they need to stay in communities.