BHP continues to take action to help keep its people, their families and communities safe, and conduct safe ongoing operations in compliance with strict health and travel guidelines put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In recent weeks, many governments around the world have announced stricter border controls and other measures to address their national health and economic circumstances in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BHP has adapted to comply with new requirements as they apply to our operations, and to follow the latest advice from relevant health authorities and world experts.
At this time among its global workforce of 72,000 people, BHP has had a small number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, all of whom are recovering well. All of the individuals who tested positive followed the required protocols of self-isolating and reporting, to avoid putting their colleagues at risk. There has not been any broader transmission from these cases to other workers, or any impact on sites or operations.
Separately, BHP is engaging with its workforce, local health authorities and communities on the plans and procedures it has in place in the event someone becomes unwell with COVID-19 symptoms. These procedures will ensure anyone with symptoms can be safely isolated and given aid, before being evacuated if required for self-isolation or treatment based on health authority advice. The procedures also include tracing and communication protocols with others to reduce the risk of further transmission.
BHP CEO Mike Henry said: “Our over-riding priority remains to help reduce the risk of transmission and help protect our people and communities. We are absolutely committed to playing our part in the collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The resources industry is one of the few industries that can provide regional jobs, products to customers and payments to suppliers to help underpin continued economic activity.
“We are also working hard to directly support the mental health and resilience of our people and communities, regional health and community services, and the vulnerable in our community as we manage through this difficult period.
“I am proud of the way our people are adapting to new ways of working, including new shift patterns and rosters to reduce movements, social distancing, hygiene protocols and regular health screenings.
“Our customers, suppliers and governments have been instrumental in helping us maintain safe production and operational continuity; we thank them for their support and will continue to work closely with them.”
In addition to measures previously announced, BHP has implemented or is putting in place a number of new controls at sites and offices around the globe.
- A reduction in the number of FIFO / DIDO workers travelling to regional sites, with those not critical to operations working from home.
- In some regions, rosters have been changed to reduce workforce movements.
- Some non-residential workers have temporarily relocated interstate, for example to Western Australia. They will stay in the state to meet tighter border controls introduced by the WA Government.
- Regular health screenings and temperature checks for workers, for example at airports, before boarding buses and when entering and exiting sites.
- Reinforcement of social distancing and hygiene requirements through daily pre-starts and leader messages, at work and in the community.
- Individuals and teams stepping up to commit to doing the right thing. For example, every FIFO worker deployed to a Newman shutdown personally committed to upholding the controls and measures in place, and received a temperature check before being issued with keys and site access.
- Implementing protective measures for workers at higher risk. For example, in Chile those with underlying health conditions or other risk factors that make them more vulnerable are not at coming to site. In Australia, Indigenous employees over 50 or that live in remote communities have been offered to work from home where feasible, or receive discretionary leave.
- In Chile, camp accommodation has transitioned to all single occupancy rooms and dining hall hours have been extended to increase social distancing.
- At some camps, additional security and screening points have been put in place to further separate local communities from non-residential workers.
- In some cities, including London, Singapore, Houston and Melbourne, staff are working remotely in line with government-mandated guidelines.
- In offices where business-critical activity is required, such as remote operating centres, additional controls are in place in line with Business Continuity Plans and government guidelines. For example, remote operating centre teams have split into two groups and work in different areas of the office, use different access routes and work on different rotations.
Reduced interaction with local communities
- BHP has increased the use of charter flights and buses to further separate workers from community members who may be on commercial transport systems.
- In Australia, non-residential workers are no longer allowed to visit local townships or community facilities. BHP has advised incoming non-residential workers to prepare accordingly before coming to site (e.g. bring all medications). In some locations, BHP has introduced a personal shopper service that camp residents can use to source local supplies.
- Reduced interactions between residential and non-residential workers on site by revising operational team structures to aid separation, including dedicated bathroom and crib facilities.
- In Western Australia Iron Ore, in undertaking shutdown work that traditionally combines residential and non-residential workers, shifts have been split with dedicated facilities allocated to each group.
- BHP continues to audit how these controls are being implemented at various sites to verify that controls are in place and effective, and if necessary make further improvements.
In the community
- In Chile, BHP has announced a US$8 million assistance program that includes an agreement with the Medical Faculty of Universidad Católica to increase the testing capacity and medical treatment facilities in vulnerable areas of Santiago, and the Antofagasta and Tarapacá Northern regions.
- Additionally, BHP will deliver sanitisation and hygiene programs focused on the towns and communities located near its Chilean operations.
- In Western Australia, BHP has donated $2 million (AUD) to the Royal Flying Doctor Service to support preparedness in coming months.
- Provided support and input to industry and government bodies to assist regional health services in accessing appropriate equipment and support in preparation for COVID-19 spread.
- All face-to-face contact with Traditional Owners in Australia has ceased to protect vulnerable members of their communities and we are looking at ways where we can provide additional support and protect Indigenous populations.