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BHP workers may be compensated if they catch COVID-19 on the job – AFR

BHP Group said in an internal memo that should its workers contract the new coronavirus, they will be eligible for compensation, though this would "depend on the circumstances" under which it happened, the Australian Financial Review reported April 7.

BHP also said that contraction of the virus on the job would be considered as an illness, and not as an injury, and will be managed through the company's normal illness-classification processes.

The mining company, which has its biggest frontline workers based in Western Australia and Queensland, mentioned in the same memo that workers could seek for compensation through the states' WorkCover agencies.

The report quoted WorkCover Western Australia saying, "COVID-19 is compensable if, and only if, it has been contracted in the course of employment and the employment is a significant contributing factor to the contraction of the disease."

WorkCover Queensland made a similar statement, saying, "If confirmation is received that your exposure to COVID-19 occurred in the course of your employment, whether or at away from your place of employment, then WorkCover will need to determine if your employment was a significant contributing factor to your confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis."

The agency said that it will obtain medical information to help determine the situation.

Earlier, BHP said that it will hire an additional 1,500 people in Australia to support its workforce at its coal, iron ore and copper operations in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.