BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers is poised to report a stunning 75 per cent increase in net profit to an estimated $US21.9 billion, but the sixth death in three years in the Pilbara casts a pall on the achievement.
It is not surprising that the majority of fatalities were suffered by contractors given BHP’s increased use of outsiders as it chases growth. Contractors are employed in part to maintain pressure on the unions, and in part to increase flexibility and speed at a time when the company is enjoying a unique period of growth as a couple of billion people in Asia have their own industrial revolution. If you employ more contractors, it is obviously more difficult to maintain the same safety culture as you may be able to with your own staff.