BHP outlines workforce measures to reduce COVID-19 risks

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 9 April, 2020 - 18:45
Industry news
National News

BHP has implemented a wide range of stringent measures across its assets to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among its workforce and local communities and to keep its operations up and running.

“Our first priority is the health and safety of our people, their families and their local communities,” said BHP’s group HSE officer Rob Telford.

“The safe continuation of BHP’s operations is, in turn, critical for jobs and local economies in the many communities and countries where we operate.

“The nature of mining and petroleum operations is such that many of our people don’t have the opportunity to work from home, but with the controls we’re implementing we are confident that our workplaces are safe.”

Telford said the group is working to implement further controls at our operated sites and offices in real-time against a fast-moving backdrop, and is working hard to make sure it has the necessary supplies and equipment to maintain safe and healthy working areas for its people.

“We are conducting regular audits to understand the effectiveness of the controls, obtain feedback and determine additional measures or improvements that are required,” he said.

“We will continue to do this for the duration.”

Telford outlined the measures and controls applied at BHP locations based on local requirements:


Social distancing

  • Social distancing, or physical distancing, requirements are in place at all BHP locations and stipulate individuals should remain an appropriate distance apart as per health and safety guidelines. This applies to sites, camps and offices, and is being worked through for transport. Social distancing is being reinforced daily, and traditional greetings such as handshakes are no longer used.
  • Gatherings of people are limited as much as possible and conducted in line with social distancing requirements, for example, pre-start meetings at operational sites.



  • Increased cleaning at all sites and offices, plus regular testing of workplace cleanliness and hygiene standards.
  • Clear and regular communication about the strict hygiene protocols in place at all operational sites and offices. This includes handwashing, sanitation, food and drinks.



  • BHP has banned international business travel globally.
  • Domestic and international commuting continues in a limited manner in line with country-specific advice.
  • Protocols such as flexible rostering have been introduced to support workforce requirements.
  • Numbers of people on planes, buses and in vehicles are reduced to meet social distancing recommendations. For example, not seating people next to each other and formations that extend the distance between people.
  • Temperature checks and three-question surveys before boarding BHP operated planes and buses, to assess individuals’ health.
  • Vehicles cleaned and sanitised between trips.


Where state or national borders have closed

  • Flexible shift and rostering arrangements are in place to accommodate self-isolation and work requirements, and to help manage workflow over an expected period of prolonged border restrictions.
  • Working with people to relocate for periods of time to comply with cross-border restrictions or quarantine requirements. For example, some tugboat pilots who normally reside in Tasmania have relocated with their families to Western Australia.


Operational sites

  • BHP has reduced the number of people at mine sites and other operational facilities to business-critical employees and contractors only.
  • All non-essential visits and meetings at operational sites are being rescheduled, cancelled or undertaken via virtual platforms.
  • Heavy equipment, trucks and light vehicles have increased personal hygiene protocols, and are equipped with appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Cleaning protocols on site have increased on handrails, walkways, meeting rooms and crib rooms. This includes deep cleaning where possible.
  • Pre-start and other essential meetings are conducted outside where possible, and in line with social distance requirements.
  • For any meetings held inside, room capacity has been reduced and seating and floor marks have been added to reinforce appropriate social distancing.
  • Daily messages from leaders with the latest advice from relevant authorities and BHP leadership on operating in line with health protocols. This includes:
    • Practice good hygiene, wash hands with soap, more regularly and avoid touching the face.
    • Use santisers, gloves and other protective gear where advised.
    • Wipe down equipment with disinfectant.
  • Leader messages are reinforced with regular reminders and with health advice from team leaders, flyers, notices, FAQs and other materials in workspaces and in crib rooms.


Accommodation camps

  • Dining hall opening times have been extended to reduce the number of people dining at any one time. Seating has been arranged to maintain appropriate social distancing.
  • Takeaway and pre-packaged food options have been increased, along with pre-packaged condiments and utensils.
  • The use of gloves is now required in some common areas.
  • Increased cleaning of camp accommodation.
  • Some camp facilities have been closed (barbecue areas and gyms) while other communal areas have been adapted to adhere to social distancing requirements.


In offices

  • In-person meetings with external stakeholders postponed, cancelled or conducted through technology.
  • BHP has implemented roster systems to support office-based roles that are essential to business continuity, for example remote operating centres. People are encouraged to work from home wherever possible.
  • All office equipment, handrails, desks are cleaned more frequently and deep cleans are conducted regularly, including between weekly changeovers.
  • Meeting room capacity has been reduced and seating and appropriate controls in place to appropriate social distancing.
  • All offices have increased personal hygiene protocols and hand sanitiser stations.
  • Offices remain closed in locations where authorities have mandated that employees work remotely, and BHP’s technology systems are working to support this.