BHP has considered a mandatory vaccination policy for its Australian workplaces, as it rolls out 300 AstraZeneca voluntary vaccines at the Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales.
BHP Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto said BHP was doing all it could to mitigate COVID-19 on-site and in the community, and vaccinations were becoming a part of that.
“BHP continually reviews the status and effectiveness of COVID-19 controls in line with the latest scientific evidence and expert health advice. The science is clear that widespread vaccination saves lives,” Basto said.
“As a necessary control to protect the health and safety of our people and the communities where we operate, we are actively assessing vaccination as a condition of entry to our Australian sites and offices.”
The trial of 300 voluntary vaccinations at Mount Arthur came thanks to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Taskforce, and complements the site’s Rapid Antigen Testing hub which has administered more than 5000 tests to date.
Across the country, BHP has delivered a range of similar initiatives.
In Queensland, the company partnered with the Queensland Health Department, Mackay Hospital and Health Services and Vanguard to fund and convert an existing testing centre into a vaccination hub.
In Western Australia, BHP has worked with the State Government to set up more vaccination hubs, targeting vulnerable communities such as Indigenous and remote ones.
Basto said the company has learned from its experience with COVID-19 around the world and applied it in Australia.
“Our experience in our Chilean operations, where workplace and community vaccination hubs have helped get local vaccination rates to nearly 90 per cent, show it can be done well,” he said.
While mandatory vaccination has been a contentious topic across Australia of late, Basto emphasised that a consultatory process would be undertaken to assess the support of its workforce.
“We have an obligation to ensure our people are safe when they are at work, and to support the health of the regional communities where we operate. We respect individual choice and we will engage closely with our people as we move forward with this work,” he said.