Low-cost: Big risk

Updated: Oct 14

Featured in Paydirt Mining Magazine, September 2022 Edition

The mining industry has not escaped the disruption caused by the pandemic. From outbreaks on sites that have led to closures and borders being shut by governments, to the escalating problem of labour and skills shortages, mine operators have managed the risks as best they can - exploring and implementing protocols and measures required to continue operation.

At the same time, they have needed to continue to comply with all legislated health and safety requirements regarding work health safety and duty of care for worker wellbeing.

The measures implemented, including temperature screening at site, COVID-19 testing and increased hygiene measures such as social distancing and reduced shift sizes, or restrictions on work-related travel may have been preventative, but they have also been time consuming, resource heavy and costly.

While health and safety is a fundamental shared value for the mining industry, and one that is at the centre of every responsible company’s business strategy, it is critical to note that effective Covid prevention cannot be managed as a traditional procurement process, where the focus is on price and short-term savings. Rather, as a medical intervention, it requires a thorough understanding of the product being sourced, its effectiveness, and how the process can be turned into a best practice scenario to increase efficiency and safeguard business continuity.

And while providing mitigation, running a testing program without the means of being able to verify, record and understand results is inefficient and risky, not to mention a waste of money that could be better spent.

There is a proven way for organisations to achieve zero Covid transmissions on site.

Already in use by hundreds of forward-thinking organisations, Australian-based MedTech company Gardian has developed a robust protocol, software toolset and saliva-based rapid antigen test kit, to support end-to-end ‘test, track and trace’ for covid-19 Point of Care and at-home self-testing, including for FIFO workers.

Comprised of the Gardian T3 saliva-based rapid antigen test, the Gardian Self Check app and Gardian Test Tracker, the Covid-19 screening solution may be used together for optimum efficiency and protection.

Whether testing 100 or 10,000 people, the Gardian screening solution is designed to provide management and healthcare teams with real-time visibility and verification of every Covid test taken; managing registration, capture of identification and consent, results notification and compliance/exception reporting, as well as effectively ensuring that every step has been conducted in line with the manufacturer’s instructions for use and in as little as two minutes per person.

In addition to overall visibility, test repeatability and accurate reporting, Gardian Test Tracker also allows for the collection and reporting of historical data. This means that in the rare case of a product recall, one can track exactly where each sample was taken, what type of test kit was used, who completed the test and when the test results were recorded.

Obviously, underpinning the screening program is the requirement for a high-quality rapid antigen test. Buying cheap and readily available tests may seem like a bargain initially, but they could pose serious risks to the operation and more importantly, the workers.

Procurement teams also need to confirm that the rapid antigen test has been both analytically and clinically tested against all current Covid-19 variants, and more specifically Omicron.

In addition to possessing all these important attributes, the innovative Gardian T3 saliva-based rapid antigen test includes a Quick Response (QR) code printed on the cassette that is linked to a unique identifier allocated at the point of manufacture. When used in conjunction with the Gardian Self Check app the user is required to scan the QR code on the cassette, effectively validating the test against a predefined database of used and unused strips.

The validation of the QR code allocates a unique identifier to the user and removes the alpha numeric code from the database ensuring that it cannot be used or allocated again. This simple, yet comprehensive process validates the completed test strip QR code against the