The Western Australian Government will make it mandatory for the state’s port workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can access and undertake some roles on an ‘exposed’ vessel.
From October 15, port workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access an exposed vessel, carry out a service in connection with an exposed vessel or interact with crew.
These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by November 12.
The new Exposed Port Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions address the risks posed by exposed vessels.
The directions apply to all commercial ports in Western Australia and include anyone who has contact with an exposed vessel. Implementation will be a staged approach to limit the potential impact on port activities.
It will be the responsibility of the employer to collect and maintain records of vaccinated workers.
Health Minister Roger Cook said shipping provides Western Australians with vital imports, as well as ensuring the state’s highly lucrative exports are carried out across the globe.
“But these vessels also bring with them the risk of importing COVID-19 into our community,” Cook said.
“We need to be ever-vigilant and continue our best efforts to keep the virus out.
“This is why it has been decided that port workers who interact with exposed vessels must now be vaccinated.
“They are on the frontline, up and down our coast, and we need to keep them and our community safe.”
Ports Minister Rita Saffioti said Western Australia has 22 port facilities overseen by five port authorities and the Department of Transport, managing huge numbers of ships, cargo and crew every week.
“We all know the risk posed by COVID-19 and it is logical we would try to protect anyone on the frontline,” Saffioti said.
“This will keep them safe, their families and communities safe, and our ports operating.”
The Exposed Port Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions provide exemptions for unvaccinated police and emergency workers, as well as statutory officers performing their duties from entering an exposed vessel.
About 12,000 vessels visit WA ports each year.