THE Australian Steel Institute (ASI) has called on the Government to classify the steel industry as essential.

The peak industry body represents the entire steel industry value chain, including major producer members BlueScope Steel, InfraBuild Steel, Molycop and Bisalloy, and says the industry must be kept operational in the event of severe lockdowns designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In a joint statement with the Australian Workers’ Union, the ASI said steel was a high capital cost industry with low people density and high value.

The steel industry already practices very high standards of hygiene to protect all employees from routine work health and safety risks,” they said.

These practices have been galvanised and heighted since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Australian steel manufacturers have already introduced the following measures to protect their employees:

  • Steel mills and other facilities have introduced strict entry procedures, which include screening for COVID-19 exposure and checking the temperatures of personnel
  • Stricter than usual hygiene procedures, including heightened, more frequent, and deeper cleaning
  • Review of facilities to ensure social distancing guidelines are strictly adhered to, including maintaining 1.5m between employees at all times and the eradication of overlapping shifts
  • Travel bans for employees since March 1, 2020
  • Stringent return to work protocols post-travel and where an employee feels unwell, including self-isolation
  • Introduction of remote working arrangements for non-essential employees
  • Heightened communications around all hygiene measures to help ensure employee, contractor and supplier compliance
  • Implementation of detailed procedures to manage a COVID-19 exposure case 

The ASI and AWU said steel is a critical input across myriad aspects of Australia’s society and economy, from residential and commercial construction, through to mining.


All these essential downstream and related industries rely on steel to function. If one part of an industrial supply chain is closed, this will lead to the closure of other industries and companies in a domino-effect,” they said.