BHP to open NSW's first workplace-based vaccine site

BHP is still reviewing mandatory jabs for employees

BHP to open NSW's first workplace-based vaccine site

Mining giant BHP will pilot a vaccination site near the Mt. Arthur coal mine this week, as part of a series of steps to keep its employees safe from COVID-19. BHP revealed in a statement that the clinic will become the first voluntary workplace-based vaccine centre in New South Wales.

According to a media release, representatives from Mt. Arthur Coal met with the Commonwealth Government, which approved the deployment of 300 AstraZeneca vaccines to the coal production site. Meanwhile, the mining giant is also in talks with the West Australian health department to offer its assistance on vaccine rollouts in the Pilbara region, news.com.au reported.

The region is where BHP's flagship iron ore operations are located, according to the report, and is also a region of low vaccination rates.

"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," said BHP Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto as quoted by news.com.au. "The science is clear that widespread vaccination saves lives … and we will look for further opportunities to increase access and uptake of vaccinations," he added.

On the topic of jabs as condition for workplace entry, BHP said it is still reviewing the situation. Other major companies in other sectors, such as Qantas and SPC, have mandated vaccines to their employees to protect them from COVID-19.

Read more: Qantas announces compulsory COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff

BHP's other steps

Aside from sending jabs, BHP also established a walk-in Rapid Antigen Testing clinic at Mt. Arthur Coal amid the growing virus outbreak in the Greater Sydney.  It is part of the company's bigger site-based virus testing solution, targeting employees and contractors residing in areas with COVID-19 community exposure.  The company reported in a statement that a daily average of 400 employees from Local Government Areas with known COVID-19 exposure got tested in their clinic.

"I'm really proud of the team for the way they have stood up the COVID controls in just a matter of weeks," said Mt Arthur Coal general manager Adam Lancey in a statement.

In Moranbah, BHP is also funding the vaccination clinic for the regional communities. It’s expected to administer 500 vaccinations each week when at full capacity and pending supply, according to a media release. The clinic is operated by Vanguard Health and was formerly a testing centre before it was converted to a vaccination hub.

"BHP is encouraging our workers to protect themselves and the community by choosing to get vaccinated if they are able to do so," said Basto. "Our hope is that people see the wisdom in getting vaccinated, both for themselves, but also to protect those around them."

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