News BHP considers COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff

BHP considers COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff

The Fair Work Commission faulted BHP for insisting on mandatory COVID shots without adequate consultation. Photo: AAP
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Mining giant BHP is considering mandating COVID-19 vaccination for anyone entering its worksites and offices.

It would be the third major company to bring in a vaccine mandate after airlines Qantas and Virgin Australia.

BHP Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto says an assessment of scientific evidence and expert health advice will be completed next month.

He says the policy will likely come into effect in early 2022 after all staff have had ample time to get the jab.

“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,” Mr Basto said in a statement to AAP on Monday.

“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.”

BHP’s announcement on a possible vaccine mandate comes on the same day Virgin announced a mandate.

The airline will soon begin talks with employees and unions about a proposal requiring all frontline workers to get vaccinated by November 15 and all office-based staff by March 31, 2022.

Qantas has given pilots, cabin crew and airport staff three months to get fully vaccinated.

The deadline for other workers, such as those in head office, to receive both doses is March 31 next year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison applauded the Qantas move to mandate the vaccine.

“They’ve come up, I think, with a fair and and well-intentioned direction,” he said earlier this month.

“They’ve shown, I think, the right model about how you go about this.”

BHP is also trialling a vaccination hub for staff at its Mt Arthur Coal Mine in the NSW Upper Hunter region.

The trial hub will begin to administer jabs on Thursday.

The company is funding a vaccination centre at Moranbah in central Queensland and a mobile hub at Olympic Dam in South Australia.

A vaccination centre at Newman in Western Australia, which will open in October, is also being funding by the miner.

Mr Basto said the company was determined to help the country safely reopen while protecting people from COVID-19.

“Getting more Australians vaccinated more quickly will help protect communities and enable a safe return to more normal ways of working across all sectors and regions – benefiting small and large businesses alike,” he said.

“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.”