FIFO burnout unveiled
Change to rosters and accommodation arrangements is crucial to tackling the spate of psychological distress among fly-in, fly-out workers, a longawaited report has revealed.
The State Government last Wednesday 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 burn-out rates among FIFO workers and made recas ommendations 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.
High-compression 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.
“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 being in an isolated part of the world.”
The McGowan Government last week 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.
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.