05/10/2021 - 13:12

Jab made mandatory for mining workforce

05/10/2021 - 13:12

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COVID-19 vaccinations will soon become mandatory for those working in the state’s resources sector, with all workers required to get their first jab by December 1.

Mr McGowan said the move was a natural extension of the mandating of vaccines in various sectors, including healthcare. Photo: David Henry

COVID-19 vaccinations will soon become mandatory for more than 140,000 employees in the state’s resources sector, with the state government announcing all workers would need to get their first jab by December 1.

During a press conference this afternoon, Premier Mark McGowan confirmed the new mandatory vaccination rule would apply to all those working across the state's resources sites, remote operations or in critical infrastructure; and would also apply to visitors to the operations.

The move, which is being made based on the advice of the state's chief health officer, is expected to affect more than 140,000 fly-in, fly-out workers in the mining sector.

Employees will be required to have their first dose by December 1 and be fully-vaccinated by January 1, 2022.

Mr McGowan said the move was a natural extension of the mandating of vaccines in various sectors, including healthcare, hotel quarantine and the state’s ports, and followed significant consultation with union representatives and industry.

He said the mandating of vaccinations for mine workers was a "tough measure", but one that was aimed at addressing the obvious risk posed by resources sector staff moving throughout remote Aboriginal communities.

The mining sector is also the largest employer of Aboriginal people in regional WA, he said.

The Pilbara currently has among the worst vaccination rates in the country, according to the latest data from the federal health department.

As of September 26, just 28.5 per cent of those over the age of 15 in East Pilbara had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 17.4 per cent were fully vaccinated.

The rates were worse in the western part of the region, with 27.7 per cent having received their first dose and 16.6 per cent fully vaccinated.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies released a statement this afternoon supporting the decision.

AMEC chief executive Warren Pearce said the state's chances of avoiding further COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns this year appeared slim and that the industry needed to prepare itself and its communities. 

“With the potential for further outbreaks, comes the risk of serious illness and death in our state, and the best way to prepare and defend against these threats is for as many West Australians as possible to get vaccinated," he said.

“Now that this decision has been taken by Government, should there be further outbreaks, exploration, mining and mining service companies with a fully vaccinated FIFO/DIDO workforce should be allowed to continue to operate, ensuring that our workforce can continue to work.

“Finally, it is important to recognise that some people in our industry may still be unsure about a vaccination.

"However, with the requirement not commencing until December, these workers will have time to consult a medical professional, get the correct information, and make an informed choice."

The Perth Airport clinic, operating in partnership with Rio Tinto, will open on Monday to provide added convenience for people who can easily access the COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, WA health authorities are still tracking down and testing close and casual contacts of an Australian diplomat and those onboard a flight from Adelaide to Perth on Saturday.

Authorities are also monitoring the five positive cases onboard the Stolt Sakura, an oil tanker docked at Fremantle.

Two of the 12 positive crew members are now at Fiona Stanley in ICU and four others are in the respiratory ward.

All are in a stable condition.

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