Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening

RIO Tinto is trialling a rapid testing system to identify whether any of its Western Australian iron ore fly-in, fly-out workers are carrying antibodies that could be related to COVID-19.
Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening Rio Tinto ups COVID-19 screening

Rio Tinto is introducing a rapid testing regime for its workers flying out of Perth Airport.

Australia's Mining Monthly is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub. To subscribe to AMM, click here.

The trial has already identified eight workers who could have potentially had COVID-19 and one Rio Tinto contractor subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

The trial has been added to other screening measures the miner has already introduced, including questionnaires and temperature screening, to help prevent the spread of the virus to its Pilbara operations.

The COVID-19 test requires a small blood sample taken via a finger pinprick to detect viral related antibodies in the individual's blood.

The screening process is not a test for COVID-19. It detects any viral-related antibodies. Any worker who tests positive is required to self-isolate as a precaution and seek prompt testing at an approved clinic.

Those cleared receive an access band and allowing them to board their flight.

The test is part of a pre-flight screening process.

The day before flying workers have to fill out a health questionnaire.

On arrival at the airport worker's temperature is taken, they are given a face to face assessment with a nurse and the rapid screen test is conducted.

The airport process takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Rio Tinto has also introduced the rapid screening test at its operations centre near the Perth Airport.

The testing procedures are carried out by trained medical staff overseen by Rio Tinto's occupational physician.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said he believed the added 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," Salisbury said.

"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."

BHP is understood to be considering a trial of the rapid screening test as a potential additional screening method.