Mining giant BHP will continue to lock out unvaccinated employees from its worksites despite the State Government scrapping the vaccination mandate for most WA workers from Friday.
Under BHP’s health and safety controls applying from June 10, all employees, job applicants, and visitors seeking access to sites or offices will still require at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.
It said its decision to maintain the strict vaccination mandate as public health orders ease was based on its own assessment of the latest science and health advice.
But it’s in stark contrast to rival iron ore producer Rio Tinto which is opening up to jab hesitant FIFO workers.
The West Australian on Monday revealed a Rio Tinto internal memo that outlined the global company’s plans to welcome back unjabbed workers and scrap vaccination checks from airports, worksites, company events, and family visits.
BHP had previously included a booster dose in its site access requirements as per WA Government directions but has decided to remove the need for a third shot as of Friday.
“Double vaccination as a condition of entry will remain in place for all of BHP’s Australian workplaces,” a BHP spokeswoman said.
“Our policy does not require booster vaccinations for site access, but we do encourage everyone to maintain an up-to-date vaccination status in line with ATAGI recommendations.
“Our COVID-19 health and safety measures are based on a thorough assessment of the latest scientific evidence and health advice, and we continue to review the effectiveness of those controls.”
Under the new State Government rules only health, aged and disability care workers will be required to be vaccinated, with other employers left to decide their own policies.
Premier Mark McGowan flagged last week that some public and private sector businesses could choose to keep mandating vaccinations for employees, suggesting such a move might be on the cards for prisons and emergency services.
Last Friday, however, both the Department of Justice and Department of Fire and Emergency Services announced they would be scrapping internal mandates.
Thousands of FIFO workers rallied against the WA Government’s “no jab, no job” rules in Perth last December when a first dose was mandated for the resources sector.
Placing their fluro high-vis shirts and vests along the steps of Parliament House, anti-vaccine workers protested against the policy which eventually applied to more than 75 per cent of WA’s workforce, with non-compliers facing a $20,000 fine.
BHP’s WA Iron Ore Asset President Brandon Craig last week said only a small minority of employees were jab hesitant, estimating roughly 2-3 per cent had chosen not to comply with vaccination as a condition of entry.
“It was not at a level that was material to the performance of our business,” he said.
”We did work very hard to try and work with people, to try and stay inside our business and having them leave the business really was a last resort for us.”
BHP was quick to move on the issue. When the State Government first announced mandates for pockets of WA’s workforce, BHP implemented the rules across all departments of its entire operation based on its own health advice.
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