COVID-19 vaccine required for workers in the resources industry

Mandatory first doses due by 12:01am on December 1, 2021
Date: Tuesday, 05 October 2021
  • New public health advice makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for FIFO and other resources sector workers from December
  • Resources workers, workers in remote operations or working in rural and remote locations must be fully vaccinated by January 1
  • Move based on public health advice to protect workers, Aboriginal communities, and the wider community, and follows mandates in place for other industries

FIFO and local workers on Western Australian mining and resources sites, and people who work in remote operations or run critical infrastructure including remote train and port control must have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by December 1, 2021 and be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022. 

The new directions will address the risks posed by movement of resources sector workers, including mining and oil and petroleum operations, to and from regional and remote locations in WA, with many sites and operations located at or near remote Aboriginal communities.

The mandate, based on the latest health advice, applies to any FIFO worker in WA, in mining, oil and gas and exploration, visitors to these operations, as well as all resources sector employees who work at regional and remote mine sites. It will also include workers at other mission critical operational locations including remote operations, for example, a Perth-based remote operator of a Hedland mining train.

Resources sector workers potentially come into contact with Aboriginal people from remote communities, which means there is a risk that COVID-19 could enter a community from an infected worker. The sector is also the largest employer of Aboriginal people in the regions.

Factors which increase Aboriginal people’s susceptibility to serious disease from COVID-19 include higher rates of other chronic health issues, difficulties in accessing health care and high levels of mobility.

There are about 141,000 resources sector workers in Western Australia.  

From 12:01am on December 1, 2021, affected workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access their workplace. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022. It will be the responsibility of employers to collect and maintain records of vaccinated workers, and aligned with other mandatory vaccination directions, there are provisions for exemptions for approved medical reasons.

The move to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for resources sector workers follows similar mandates in other industries including ports, transport, freight and logistics, healthcare and aged care.

This comes on top of measures the State Government has already put in place to make it easier for workers to get vaccinated, including pop-up vaccination clinics in Pilbara towns and at Perth Airport.

The Perth Airport clinic, operating in partnership with Rio Tinto for FIFOs, is opening on Monday (October 11) to provide added convenience for people who can easily access the COVID-19 vaccine on their way to and from work.

As well as resources sector workers, all eligible Western Australians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Everyone aged over 12 years is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. People can visit to register and book their vaccination appointments now.

State-run COVID-19 vaccination clinics are available in more than 100 locations across Western Australia, including walk-in opportunities across regional towns, with sites listed on the HealthyWA website.

COVID-19 vaccinations are also provided by a range of GPs, GP respiratory clinics and pharmacies across the State. People are encouraged to speak to their local healthcare provider to find out more.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“WA has followed the health advice which has kept us safe and protected our family, friends and the WA community.

“We’ve worked with industry along the way and what is not lost on all of us is that because the resources sector was able to operate during the height of the pandemic, Western Australians have benefited and enjoyed freedoms other places in the country cannot.

“As a result of the resources sector being able to continue their operations safely this has created dividends for the entire nation.

“To all the impacted workers who have done their share throughout the pandemic, stay the course and heed the health advice. I’m urging you to take this next step and get the COVID vaccine now.”

Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:

“The resources sector has a highly mobile workforce, with a large proportion of FIFO workers.

“If a resources worker became infected with COVID-19 and the virus was then transmitted to one of our remote Aboriginal communities where people are very vulnerable to the illness, the consequences would be disastrous.

“We want to avoid that dreadful scenario and ensure all Western Australians are protected.

“So, my message for resources sector workers is ‘Roll up for WA’ - and do your bit to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”

Comments attributed to Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston:

“This is about workers protecting themselves, their colleagues and their workplaces and communities they operate in.

“As an industry in WA, we pride ourselves on a range of factors including the health and safety of our workforce, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the next obvious critical element.

“These new directions mean that if you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine you will need to do so now to be allowed to attend or work in rural or remote mine sites and operations.

“Under the directions, individuals that choose not to will have to work in another area of the organisation or seek other employment.”