A guided tour of the new Rio Tinto’s BC Works facility. (File photo)

A guided tour of the new Rio Tinto’s BC Works facility. (File photo)

Rio Tinto cancels fly-ins to region in response to COVID-19

The company had previously planned a number of screening measures for fly-in workers

Just four days after it announced a number of screening measures for fly-in fly-out workers Rio Tinto says it has decided to suspend travel for anyone flying into Kitimat to work for the company until at least the end of May.

Workers who are already in Kitimat will be able to leave at the end of their rotation. Otherwise, only emergency and “critically-essential travel” will be allowed with the approval of the General Manager and will be subject to a risk assessment.

“We are confident this additional precaution will enable us to better protect our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, while we progress on our pot-replacement project,” a release from the company reads.

“We remain open for business and are committed to maintaining our operations as an essential industry in British Columbia. We know that during and after this health crisis, we will play our part in supporting our community, our customers and our economy.”

READ MORE: Rio Tinto donates masks to Kitimat RCMP officers

The announcement is a change in strategy from a number of screening measures for fly-in fly-out workers Rio Tinto announced just four days before the decision to suspend flights altogether.

Noting it had been deemed an essential industry by the Province, the company had previously committed to comprehensive screening for the less than 10 workers it was planning to bring in to Kitimat, including filling out a health questionnaire before leaving and screening with a medical contractor upon arrival at the Terrace airport.

The company says it will continue to abide by health authority guidelines and has implemented a range of additional measures to protect its workers. This includes increased janitorial services and daily COVID-19 “business resilience” meetings. Any staff which can do their job from home are working remotely and all meetings are being done by video conference.

The company has also implemented an employee assistance program to support workers’ mental health and a healthcare application which gives employees the ability to connect with a health care professional.



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com
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