Mining giant BHP has fired 48 workers in 2 years amid a spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations.
In July, the Australian government launched an inquiry into the problem of sexual harassment in the country’s mining industry. Large mining companies tend to use Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) accommodation, a set up which blurs workplace boundaries by housing employees on-site for the duration of a project.
BHP’s submission to the inquiry revealed that a male-dominated workplace culture is putting the welfare of female miners at risk.
The report said that two rapes, an attempted rape and three instances of non-consensual groping had taken place across its Australian temporary accommodation sites since 2019. In the past two years, the firm has fired 48 workers over sexual harassment and assault claims.
In a statement, BHP said: “Our position on this is clear. Sexual harassment is completely unacceptable, contrary to our values and unlawful.”
The company has committed AU$300m to making their work facilities safer for women. BHP noted that it has already hired security guards to patrol the accommodation villages, added CCTV to sites, increased lighting and is ensuring all doors have chains installed.
“We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly to those who have experienced, or continue to experience, any kind of sexual harassment in our workplaces” a BHP spokesperson said.
While 39 per cent of Austrlian women have experience workplace harassment, the mining industry stands out as being a particularly unsafe environment for female workers. 74 per cent of female miners have been harassed at work in the past five years.
Rio Tinto, Australia’s largest iron ore producer, also made a submission to the inquiry revealing that it has received 29 reports of sexual harassment from workers on its Western Australia site.