FIFO burnout un­veiled

Pilbara News - - News - Joanna De­la­lande

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.

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