14 September 2021
Supporting our people and communities through COVID-19
With the world continuing to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve remained vigilant to new developments, updated our controls to protect our people, supported our suppliers and worked closely with the communities where we operate to provide assistance where it’s been needed most.
Improved quarantine and testing regime
To investigate optimal COVID-19 quarantine and testing strategies, we collaborated with researchers from Yale University, York University, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Maryland and NewFields consulting firm.
The research showed that shorter quarantine periods combined with targeted testing strategies can provide equivalent or lower probabilities of post-quarantine transmission than the standard 14-day quarantine period without testing. The findings were put into practice on our offshore oil rigs to support our efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
The results of the research were published in the high-impact journal, Nature Communications, and cited by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their online information on options for reducing quarantine periods.
Health and medical support
In areas impacted by high community transmissions and reduced local medical capabilities, we provided additional support to our workforce. This included establishing telehealth services, providing in-home testing, arranging emergency ambulance support, enhanced mental wellness support and providing medical support (for example, the procurement of oxygen concentrators in India) to support ill workers and their family members.
We also encourage our workforce to protect themselves and their communities by choosing to get the COVID-19 vaccination, if they can.
Chile has been severely impacted by COVID-19 recording more than 1.6 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. In addition to a suite of onsite COVID controls, in FY2021 our Minerals Americas operated assets undertook over 870,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and 70,000 antigen tests with the participation rates of our workforce ranging from 85 to 97 per cent. In addition to PCR testing prior to coming to site, all our operated assets in Chile conducted routine antigen testing during each shift to support early detection of asymptomatic cases onsite.
Since May 2021, we commenced onsite vaccination at our operated assets in Chile and at the end of June 2021, we enabled more than 18,000 employees and contractors to receive their first dose, and more than 14,000 to be fully vaccinated.
Over the last year we increased access to mental health support in two significant ways. Over the last year we increased access to mental health support in two significant ways across Minerals Australia.
EAPlus – the capacity of our Employee Assistance Program was doubled to support an increased need for counselling services arising from the pandemic. This increased level of service access provided our people and their family members with a dedicated tele-mental health counselling resource, reducing appointment wait times to no more than two days.
Personal Resilience Program – with the severe impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry, including oil and gas contracted aviation operations, we part-funded the development of a new mental health program for the Flight Safety Foundation based largely on our own BHP Resilience Program.
Throughout the pandemic, the BHP Foundation (which is funded by BHP) continued to support their 40 partner organisations as they pivoted and adapted their work across 49 countries:
- In India, 10,000 nurses and nurse assistants were upskilled and certified to bolster health system capacity through Foundation partner, UN Women’s Second Chance Education Project. The Foundation also funded essential medical supplies and community support through a US$2million contribution to the Indian Red Cross Society.
- The Foundation’s support of the Australian Red Cross helped socially-isolated people to sustain social connections during periods of lockdown and isolation. The Foundation also supported the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre to stimulate bold thinking around a national response to the mental health impacts of COVID-19.
- A national Digital Education Network was established in Chile in response to the disruption to education. In partnership with six leading organisations, technology and tools were developed to support both students and teachers, with 870,000 beneficiaries to date.
Australian regional community support
To support regional communities throughout Australia, in 2020, BHP established a A$50 million Vital Resources Fund (VRF) to keep vital services functioning and strengthen community recovery. Find out more about the VRF in our case study.
During the pandemic, we also:
- reduced payment terms for small suppliers to increase their critical cash flow during the pandemic peak
- hired an additional 1,500 people on six-month contracts to support our Australian operations
- created a A$6 million fund to support labour hire companies and their employees