Rio Tinto has introduced rapid screening trials at Perth Airport to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Western Australia.
This will form part of an enhanced five-layer screening process designed to keep the community and the company’s workforce safe. This includes:
- A health questionnaire – employees will be asked a series of questions a day prior to traveling to screen for potential exposures to COVID-19, consistent with government restrictions on intra-state travel.
- A face-to-face assessment with a nurse at Perth Airport.
- Thermal screening – the employee’s temperature is taken via electronic thermometer.
- Rapid screening – enables the quick identification of people who may be at increased risk of having a viral illness prior to coming to site.
o This requires a small blood sample taken via a finger pinprick to detect viral related antibodies in the individual’s blood.
o This screening process is not a test for COVID-19. The detection of any viral-related antibodies requires the individual to self-isolate as a precaution and seek prompt testing at an approved clinic.
- Those cleared will receive an access band allowing them to board their flight.
Trained medical staff will perform the COVID-19 screening process with oversight by Rio Tinto’s occupational physician. There will also be oversight of the comprehensive research into the COVID-19 screening outcomes. The new measures reflect Rio Tinto’s health and safety obligations under applicable Australian legislation.
The intent is for anyone working on Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore operations to undergo screening including all fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) employees and contractors returning to work. Essential staff at Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre will also be subject to rapid screening.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said, “Our number one priority through this period is to protect the health of our employees and communities where we operate. We believe the introduction of rapid screening adds another layer of control to help prevent the transmission of the virus in WA.
“We are very confident in the veracity of our screening process which we strongly believe is an important tool to reduce risk for our communities and our people. This not only allows us to continue operating safely, which is important for the more than 12,000 people we employ, but it also enables us to continue making a strong contribution to the state’s economy.”
Alongside screening controls at airports, a range of other controls have already been introduced across Rio Tinto operations in the Pilbara region to help minimise transmission risk. This includes social distancing on planes, buses, camps and in light-vehicles, reduced people on site via a roster change and stronger controls on access to sites.