A third of FIFO workers experience psychological distress, says study

6 December 2018 (Last Updated December 6th, 2018 12:29)

Around one-third of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers experience high levels of psychological distress, compared to 17% of non-FIFO workers, according to a new study funded by the Western Australia government.

Around one-third of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers experience high levels of psychological distress, compared to 17% of non-FIFO workers, according to a new study funded by the Western Australia government.

The study was carried out to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers and calls on mining companies to step up their efforts to address the issue.

The report revealed that the levels of psychological distress, workplace bullying and burnout observed among FIFO workers are significantly higher than non-FIFO workers.

Over 3,000 FIFO workers and their families took part in the research, which was undertaken in partnership with industry, unions and researchers from Curtin University.

The report also highlighted the measures taken by FIFO workers to manage their mental health including regular communication with family while on-site, as well as seeking mental health support.

“We hope the industry, unions and FIFO workers themselves will adopt the report recommendations to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of all FIFO workers.”

Western Australia Mental Health Minister Roger Cook said: “This research was undertaken in response to calls from family members and recommendations from the Education and Health Standing Committee inquiry into FIFO work arrangements.

“The inquiry was initiated due to reports of a number of deaths by suicide by FIFO workers. We hope the industry, unions and FIFO workers themselves will adopt the report recommendations, on-site, and at home, to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of all FIFO workers, and their families.”

The report made 18 recommendations to improve the mental health of FIFO workers, including designing rosters and shift patterns with focus on providing better rest time, building permanent rooms for workers at accommodation sites and establishing local community connections.

In wake of the report findings, the government has urged companies in the mining and construction industry to implement the recommendations.

Currently, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is drafting a code of practice to improve mental wellness of FIFO workers in the resources and construction sectors in the state.