We are committed to getting through COVID-19 together with our people, suppliers and communities.
Woodside’s highest priority is the health and safety of our people, contractors, their families and the communities where we operate. Woodside’s response to COVID-19 is focused on ensuring business continuity and the uninterrupted supply of energy to domestic and export markets.
Leveraging our corporate incident management framework, Woodside activated our Corporate Incident Management Coordination team in January 2020, scaling up and down the level of response based on the risk of COVID-19 to our people, assets and offices across our operating locations. Woodside’s strong commitment to health and safety has provided the right foundation from which to mitigate effectively the pandemic threat. We continuously monitor the effectiveness of our actions and adjust our activities if necessary.
To comply with expert health and government guidance, we reduced the number of people at our facilities and continue to work with our contractors, suppliers and communities to implement appropriate health and safety measures to minimise the impact of the pandemic. We have provided additional financial assistance to small businesses and discretionary payments to contractor personnel to assist in transition.
Supporting our people
An extensive COVID-19 risk assessment was conducted for our head office in Perth, and our Australian onshore and offshore sites. Risk assessments were also conducted for our international locations. Our key corporate COVID-19 risks were developed into comprehensive risk assessments with corresponding actions. These actions focused on implementing preventative and mitigative risk controls associated with COVID-19 and continue to be the subject of regular risk assurance to confirm their effectiveness.
Woodside implements a number of hygiene and health measures at our assets, including access controls and physical distancing, to ensure the safety of our people and security of energy supply to local and international customers. These measures continue to evolve in line with health and travel advice provided by the Australian Department of Health, governments and authorities relevant to our operations. With the support of mental health specialists, we introduced additional measures to support our people and their families at work and at home as our personnel adapted to the impact of COVID-19. Enhanced hygiene practices were implemented and Woodside employees are encouraged to follow Department of Health advice, including but not limited to, washing hands frequently, using a clean tissue or their elbow to cover coughs or sneezes, using alcohol-based hand sanitiser, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
Across all locations, a range of measures were implemented to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Woodside implemented a flexible, robust work-from-home roster, designed to keep our workforce safe and healthy, while protecting business integrity. Prior to COVID-19 we already had the capability and technology in place to manage alternative work arrangements. Initially, our Perth office-based employees were separated into two teams, working at home on alternate weeks. Subsequently, all employees worked from home, except for those undertaking business critical activities, including the COVID-19 response team and our operational site-based employees where this is not practicable due to the nature of their roles. Vulnerable employees, such as those with underlying medical conditions, were given the option to work from home and not return to the office until deemed safe to do so.
Across our operating assets we established a temporary COVID-19 operating model which has included adjusted rosters and additional travel and site controls, enabling us to continue safe and reliable operations throughout this challenging period. This roster was determined as the most appropriate option, based on the information that Woodside had at the time. The decision criteria considered personal safety, the mental health and wellbeing of our people, process safety, license to operate, business resilience and workforce, community and regulatory engagement. We continue to evolve this model in line with the external risk environment. Where possible we have, or are seeking to, normalise roster patterns and site activities, while remaining resilient to COVID-19 health risks.
Key COVID-19 controls we have implemented on our assets throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with escalation or de-escalation in line with the risk environment, include: phone health screenings, temperature screening, restricted access to sites, reduction in the number of people at our facilities to comply with expert health and Government guidance, health declaration forms and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) screening.
Contractors and Suppliers
Woodside has worked with our contractors to ensure appropriate management processes are in place. This includes external notifications issued to our contractors and service providers which require each contractor and service provider to have its own Coronavirus Management Plan, consistent with the requirements of the Western Australian Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.
As publicly announced, Woodside has also taken steps to expedite payments of all outstanding invoices for small, local and Indigenous businesses, defined as a business generating less than AUD $10 million in annual revenue. We have reduced payment terms for new invoices received from small Australian businesses, expediting payment from 30 days, targeting 14 days. We have also provided support to the communities where we operate through our COVID-19 Community Fund. More than A$4.7 million has been granted to almost 70 organisations focusing on humanitarian, health and resilience needs in WA communities. We will consider re-activating this fund based on the future COVID-19 environment and impacts.
Supporting our employees
Our employees’ livelihoods are being supported by a variety of measures. Woodside employees are entitled to ten days of paid sick leave per year. If an employee has exhausted their sick leave and they continue to be unable to work as a result of continuous personal illness or injury, Woodside has the capacity to provide financial security in the form of salary continuance, while assisting the employee to return to work. Where possible flexible working arrangements are available to our employees to work from home if they are not able to work in the office. Woodside is working with our contractors to consider measures to support them to maintain the ongoing employment of as many of their employees as practicable.
Woodside continues to offer fly-in fly-out workers who live outside of Western Australia (WA) options to continue working, such as flexible working arrangements, leave without pay, paid leave (long service leave and annual leave) and options to relocate to WA, where our operations are based. We recently updated our relocation policies to provide additional benefits with more flexibility to help our employees and their families make timely decisions on whether to relocate to WA. These measures build on Woodside’s existing assistance to employees wishing to relocate, including reasonable costs for the relocation of personal and household effects, temporary accommodation and transport, an allowance to assist with the initial expenses incurred in moving, and relocation flights.
We also remain committed to our previously announced transition to a predominantly residential workforce for our onshore Karratha assets by the mid to late 2020s. Our “recruit and train in Karratha” model for our future workforce needs is supported by generous relocation incentives to enable our people to live where they work and build a strong team and community connection. For those employees who are unable to relocate, we have put measures in place to help our workforce stay connected with their families and maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.
Health and Wellbeing
Woodside’s health and wellbeing approach is managed by a dedicated wellbeing manager. Our mental health and wellbeing framework was significantly enhanced during the COVID-19 response.
Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is dedicated to health and wellbeing, providing professional and confidential counselling support to employees and their immediate family members. Acknowledging the impact of our temporary operating roster, with the support of mental health specialists and professionals, we introduced a dedicated mental health plan to support our people and their families both at work and at home.
In addition, Woodside leaders have had mental health and wellbeing awareness training to provide them with the tools to monitor and identify signs and symptoms. Trained peer supporters are also available on our assets for one-on-one discussions, a wellness webpage has been established with resources and guidance on mental wellbeing. Woodside continues to engage medical professionals and specialists, specifically to advise and ensure all medical considerations meet World Health Organisation and Department of Health guidelines.
Woodside consulted with local communities and vulnerable groups in our operations to determine how we could best provide support during the response to COVID-19. We established a COVID-19 Community Fund to support immediate humanitarian needs in the communities where we operate. The fund has provided over A$4m in grants to more than 70 Western Australian not-for-profit organisations to respond to the challenges faced by the pandemic. This has helped to address critical needs in the communities where we are active, focused on food security, emergency accommodation, health provision and education. A large proportion of funding has been allocated to organisations that support women and children facing domestic violence and homelessness services.
Read more about funding provided to local organisations in Karratha and Kimberley.
We conducted consultation with our workforce prior to introducing our temporary COVID-19 operating model. Where we have, or have sought to, evolve this model in line with the external risk environment whilst remaining resilient to COVID-19 risks, this has been developed in consultation with our workforce.