Mining giant BHP’s attempt to require all staff at a massive coal mine in the NSW Hunter Valley to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has been rejected by the national industrial tribunal in a blow to private sector jab mandates.

The Fair Work Commission found BHP had failed to properly consult its staff, including by giving them access to data, and therefore could not show that its mandate was reasonable.

Except in cases where workers need to get a jab because of public health orders, employers are generally allowed to mandate vaccines against the coronavirus only where they can show it is reasonable, taking into account the risks and benefits of such a move.

BHP’s mandate was challenged by the mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, which represents workers at the Mt Arthur mine. The bitterly divided union’s Victorian construction branch was attacked by workers, including some of its own members, in September who believed it was not opposing jab mandates with enough force.

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