WA mining mandate: the latest sector to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine

05 Oct 2021

Western Australia's mining and resources sector joins the ports, transport, freight and logistics and health and aged care sectors in being the latest industry to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for its workers, with a public health order set to be issued later this afternoon by WA's Chief Health Officer.

The mining sector, which employees approximately 141,000 workers and is the largest employer of Indigenous Australians in the regions, will require workers to have received their first COVID-19 vaccine by 1 December 2021.

Who's affected by the vaccination mandate

The mandate applies to all fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) and local workers on Western Australian mining and resource sites.

This includes:

  • workers in mining, oil and gas and exploration;
  • workers in regional and remote mine sites;
  • workers who run critical infrastructure (including remote train and port control); and
  • all visitors to these sites and operations.

The mandate has been introduced in response to risks relating to the proximity of mining operations to remote Indigenous communities.

Western Australia's mining industry is dominated by high movement of FIFO workers who fly in from big population centres into remote sites. Given the location of mining operations within the State's north and interior, there is a heightened risk that an employee may come into contact with Indigenous Australians, leading to the virus entering vulnerable communities.

What has to be done, when, and how?

Under the State Government's direction, and based on the latest health advice, all workers to which the mandate applies must have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 1 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.

To assist workers in obtaining the vaccine, the Perth Airport clinic will be operating in partnership with Rio Tinto to provide FIFO workers with the ability to access the COVID-19 vaccine on their way to or from work. This clinic will commence operation on Monday 11 October.

For workers currently in the Pilbara, there is a pop-up, walk-in vaccination clinic which has recently opened in Port Hedland. The clinic is located at the Gratwick Hall at the Civic Centre in Port Hedland and is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm every day this week until Sunday 10 October.

As with the general public, workers can also obtain the vaccine by registering and booking an appointment on the Roll up for WA website at https://rollup.wa.gov.au/.

Expectations for employers in the mining industry

Employers in the mining industry are responsible to collect and maintain records of vaccinated workers. It is important that retaining employee health information is managed in accordance with the Privacy Act.

As per previous government vaccination directions, there are provisions for exemptions where applicable, such as for approved medical reasons.

For advice or assistance with managing exemptions and recording employee health information, please get in touch.

Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.