Mining sector to adopt rigorous COVID-19 protocols despite job lift

The resources industry is set to execute national coronavirus protocols to protect jobs and employees from the threats of the pandemic.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive, Tania Constable today said Australia’s resource sector is implementing strict national COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019) health and safety protocols in partnership with Australian governments to keep its workforce, families and communities safe and healthy and sites operating.

The National Cabinet had announced last week it was seeking a framework to ensure seamless operation of essential mining and related-services functions.

Measures include reducing fly in, fly out (FIFO) activities, commuting for work and freight movements. The protocols also entail continuing company access to 24/7 employee assistance programs via call centres.

Workers who are travelling to site also need to declare that they have been well for the last seven days.

Constable said resources companies are already moving to adopt the protocols.

“They will work with public health authorities to establish a care point for rapid screening processes to reduce the risk of an infected individual from flying to another region or remote location,” she said.

Mining companies will also aim to arrange for resources employees/contractor-only flights with no other travellers onboard. They will keep track of workers travelling to site and what tasks they are performing.

Companies are also recommended to develop their own protocols with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and charter operators to safely remove staff that has been infected by coronavirus.

Despite this, the Queensland Resources Council stated that a survey of the state’s resources companies taken during the coronavirus outbreak had found that more than half of the sector planned to maintain or increase their workforce.

“The survey found that 58 per cent of companies were maintaining or planning to grow current workforce numbers over the next three months and only 21 per cent or one in five expected a decrease,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The results show COVID-19 has not significantly impacted jobs in our sector in Queensland at this stage with a similar survey taken in the December quarter reporting that 15 per cent of companies were expecting to decrease their workforce, a difference of 6 per cent from this survey.

“While these numbers are encouraging, the industry is committed to a ‘people first’ response to the detection of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and a strict adherence to the advice of health authorities.”