BHP, the Australian mining giant, has announced that it has no immediate plans to ease its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping social distancing measures in place.
In recent weeks, the company has implemented social distancing measures, health screening, and hygiene accessibility, and continues to review new methods to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus. BHP published a statement today addressing its stance on the virus, with quotes from Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry.
“Our priority remains to reduce the risk of transmission and to protect our workforce, their families and our communities. This will also enable us to keep the business safely running, supporting all those who rely on us.”
“We have worked closely with the communities where we operate to establish funding mechanisms and other support for health, wellbeing and resilience, to help protect the most vulnerable from infection, manage any potential outbreak and mitigate the broader impacts of this pandemic.”
The company reported a slight increase in the number of confirmed cases across its Chilean teams in recent weeks. Individuals affected were quickly evacuated safely, tested and placed into isolation with access to medical care. BHP’s attentive stance towards the virus has enabled it to continue operations safely, supporting both workers and the economy.
CEO Mike Henry added “All decisions related to easing restrictions at sites and in our offices will be based on targeted assessments of local risks, resources, needs and regulations, and with full consideration of the health and mental wellbeing of our people, their families and communities.”
Temperature checks, health assessments and self-isolation protocols are also being considered and implemented by BHP, along with a government-endorsed trial of molecular testing, which swabs the nose and throat. Results from this trial could see this method of testing implemented at airports and at some sites around the world.
Most office-based employees are working remotely, with locations in Lonon, Singapore and Melbourne, as BHP takes into account guidelines from different governments. Staff based in Houston and Santiago are slowly returning to work in reduced numbers.
Rio Tinto has also implemented a number of measures to mitigate the risk of the virus. A five-layer screening at airports for fly-in, fly-out workers will continue, whilst chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said "As a company, we are going to have to learn to coexist with COVID-19 for an extended period of time. Our measures have been effective ... and we will continue to implement measures."
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