The temporary accommodation provided to workers involved in the expansion work at the Tropical plant is an example of the effort that BP is making in Brazil to reach high standards in the well-being of its workers.
In 2013, when BP was preparing to start the US$350 million expansion of its Tropical sugarcane processing plant in Edéia, Goiás, a key dilemma for the operation leaders was where the 600 workers required to carry out the construction work would stay. The challenge was to find a solution that guaranteed the well-being of the workers. Due to the location of the Tropical plant, at least 16 kilometres from the nearest populated area, transport safety became an important issue. In addition, the options of accommodation in the surrounding towns were limited, and the temporary accommodation normally supplied for civil construction workers in Brazil is known for its dangerous conditions.
BP decided to construct a temporary housing development especially for the workers at the Tropical plant, to be situated a few kilometres from the site. The objective was to create accommodation with much higher standards from that typically found at this type of plant. The housing development was designed according to practices recommended for workforce accommodation in our operational management system and aimed to meet all of the applicable Brazilian regulations related to ergonomics, work conditions and air quality. Each worker has a private 8m2 space in which to sleep, and the rooms were designed in order to let the air flow through and control the temperature – an important consideration in a location where temperatures can exceed 35°C. The water at the complex is drinkable and waste treatment facilities were fitted. A washroom and other facilities are available, such as a recreation area, two TV rooms, a cafeteria, an open-air cinema and a 24-hour health centre. Health education is constantly provided to those living on the complex. BP worked together with a local health institution to provide medical evaluations to the workers, as well as talks on themes such as smoking, alcohol, drugs and oral health. Meetings are held once a week between BP leaders and residents at the complex to discuss health and well-being issues.
Certification for good practices
The Tropical plant was one of the first operations in its category in the world to receive SA8000 certification, an international standard for social responsibility and human rights. This certification was awarded in 2011 – the same year in which BP took on full ownership of the site from its partners – after an independent audit of working practices and human rights and the subsequent steps taken to improve work processes at the plant. New communication channels were implemented for workers to register their concerns and a mechanised harvesting system was created to substitute the manual system wherever possible, to name some examples. Since then, other safety procedures and policies have been introduced, including communication campaigns to raise awareness among workers of the risk of diseases such as dengue and AIDS.