BHP prioritises staff mental health during coronavirus pandemic

BHP has introduced four key ways to focus on mental wellbeing as employees work under the uncertainty and instability of the coronavirus outbreak.

The four focusses are family connection breaks at BHP’s Newman site in Western Australia, family connection magnets, the Singapore team participating in an ActiveBHP challenge and a virtual resilience program in Houston.

The family connection breaks at Newman gives the Newman East shutdown team a new 15 minute routine time to call home and check on their loved one during shifts.

Newman East shutdown coordinator Mark Champness said flying out for his fly-in fly-out (FIFO) shifts caused him to worry for his family, so he assumed the rest of his team were feeling similar emotions.

From here came the family connection breaks idea.

“Personally, I was concerned about flying out for my shift because there were so many unknowns about travel restrictions and lock downs at the time,” Champness said. “(It) is safe to assume my team would be feeling the same.

“We now take a scheduled break at 8pm to give everyone a chance to phone home. (My crew) love the idea and were shocked because we’ve always been hard on phones.

“The team are really grateful because they get to call their kids and tell them they are okay.”

The family connection magnets are set to be rolled out across BHP’s Australian and Chilean operations, creating fridge magnets to allow workers’ family members to have alternative contact numbers in plain sight should they need to get in touch.

BHP principal integration Craig Butterworth said these magnets are useful because employees working at a machine will often not have their mobile phone with them, meaning they are out of immediate contact from their loved ones for hours at a time.

“The next best course of action would be to contact their supervisor who could pass on a message, or failing that, the site gate house to help track down,” Butterworth explained.

“The challenges associated with the outbreak means that our employees and their families might be going through some tough times.

“These magnets put front and centre the opportunities they have to speak to loved ones at site or with the employee assistance provider (EAP) to talk through their problems.”

Similarly, the virtual resilience program is aimed at workers feeling alone being away from their families and provides tailored mental health advice for challenges related to the coronavirus.

This will launch this week and will provide BHP employees with practical advice and techniques for managing mental health issues at work.

“The constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless and it takes its toll on our mental health and wellbeing,” HSE Petroleum acting vice president Paul Kelly said.

Similarly, the ActiveBHP challenge introduced by BHP’s Singapore community encourages looking out for mental health and wellbeing, this time by staying active and maintaining a healthy exercise regime.

This includes a group exercise tracking app that allows team members from all over the world to track their progress.