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Social distancing takes off at Newman Airport

How do you put in place social distancing controls, in a small regional airport with up to 2000 travellers every day? You involve the whole community.

The massive improvements seen at Newman Airport on COVID-19 controls throughout March and April could not have taken place without the Shire of East Pilbara leading the charge, closely supported by volunteers from BHP’s Newman Operations and Jimblebar teams.

BHP Corporate Affairs team member Dani Airton said the Shire of East Pilbara manages Newman Airport with Northwest Aviation Services.

“They put together some great controls to make sure there is adequate physical distancing between people at the airport, however they needed support to help make sure the controls were being followed,” Dani said.

“We have a huge number of BHP people moving through that airport each day, so it was only right we helped out.

“The Shire took the lead, setting up gazebos and chairs in what we called the ‘staging areas’. We simply put on our ‘Continuous Improvement’ hats and enhanced the controls, like tape on the ground, adding new markers for social distancing, removing chairs, adding new staging areas and more signage.

“Each day is different, and numbers play a huge part in how things are managed – which is why our Non-Process Infrastructure team has been so helpful.

“They put together data from bus and flight schedules which allows the teams on the ground to prepare for crowds. It’s been one big team effort.”

The controls at Newman airport have been crucial to safely managing the health of BHP’s FIFO workforce in Newman, as well as residents and community members.

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