FIFO worker stress re­vealed

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Joanna De­la­lande If you or some­one you know is think­ing of sui­cide, phone Life­line on 13 11 14.

Change to ros­ters and ac­com­mo­da­tion ar­range­ments is cru­cial to tack­ling the spate of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress among fly-in, fly-out work­ers, a long-awaited re­port has re­vealed.

The State Gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day re­leased the re­sults of a study into the men­tal health im­pacts of FIFO work, which found 33 per cent of FIFO work­ers ex­pe­ri­enced high lev­els of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress com­pared with only 17 per cent of non-FIFO work­ers.

It high­lighted is­sues around iso­la­tion, sleep qual­ity and high burnout rates among FIFO work­ers and made rec­om­men­da­tions for changes to ros­ters, ac­com­mo­da­tion and re­cre­ation op­tions.

The re­port iden­ti­fied FIFO work­ers on even-time and shorter ros­ters re­ported sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter out­comes on all men­tal health and well­be­ing mea­sures com­pared with those on longer ros­ters with less time for re­cov­ery. High­com­pres­sion ros­ters and trav­el­ling long dis­tances, which en­croached on their lim­ited time off, added to stress and fa­tigue lev­els.

Many FIFO work­ers felt worse when tran­si­tion­ing to site, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sad­ness and anx­i­ety and not want­ing to re­turn to work, and felt bet­ter when tran­si­tion­ing home.

Iso­la­tion was also a key fac­tor and an im­por­tant in­flu­ence on FIFO worker men­tal health — not only be­cause of sep­a­ra­tion from fam­ily, but be­cause of long work hours pre­vent­ing so­cial in­ter­ac­tion on­site.

“FIFO means you don’t cre­ate part­ner­ships or you don’t cre­ate friends in that sort of en­vi­ron­ment,” one in­ter­vie­wee said. “So, it’s not only iso­la­tion from the part­ner that stays at home . . . it’s more iso­lated for the peo­ple that go up. They move you around the camp. You don’t get the same room twice . . . crammed quar­ters, long work hours, which means that by the end of that day, you don’t re­ally make any friends.

“It’s just so iso­lat­ing for the per­son in­di­vid­u­ally as well as be­ing in an iso­lated part of the world.”

The McGowan Gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day urged the min­ing and con­struc­tion in­dus­try, unions and in­di­vid­u­als to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions, but stopped short of back­ing de­mands for change with leg­is­la­tion.

Union­sWA as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Owen Whit­tle said the re­search showed the re­sources sec­tor was built on the poor men­tal health of FIFO work­ers and ur­gent ac­tion was re­quired. “In the face of sui- cides and poor men­tal health, it is not enough for our re­source cor­po­ra­tion to of­fer band-aids after the fact — change must aim at preven­tion,” he said.

“One of the ma­jor, pre­ventable fac­tors con­tribut­ing to poor men­tal health are the in­hu­mane ros­ters that fre­quently have FIFO work­ers on­site for 28 con­sec­u­tive days be­fore hav­ing a break and those breaks in­clude long hours of fly­ing to and from re­mote sites.

“The stan­dard for ac­com­mo­da­tion is of­ten poor, in­clud­ing motelling that mean work­ers have to share dif­fer­ent ac­com­mo­da­tion across shifts, in do­ing so deny­ing them a place to live while work­ing that they might build to make their own.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.