New research into the mental health and wellbeing of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers has found that one third (33 per cent) experience high levels of psychological distress, in comparison to only 17 per cent of non-FIFO workers.
The research report, Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers, was funded by the Western Australian Government and is considered to be one of the most comprehensive FIFO research studies undertaken in Australia.
Over 3,000 FIFO workers and their families participated in the research, which was produced in conjunction with industry, unions and researchers from Curtin University’s Centre of Transformative Work Design.
Along with higher levels of psychological distress, the research found FIFO workers also suffer more incidents of workplace bullying and higher levels of burnout than non-FIFO workers.
The report further identified that many FIFO workers already use a wide range of positive strategies to manage their mental health including maintaining regular communication with family and friends while on-site and seeking mental health support when needed.
In response to the findings, the researchers provided 18 recommendations as to how employers, individual workers, and families can take active steps to improve the experience of FIFO work. The recommendations included changing rosters and shift patterns, providing better rest time, offering permanent rooms at accommodation sites, and building local community connections.
Chief Executive of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME), Paul Everingham, said the CME will work closely with members to review, consider and respond to the recommendations in the report.
“When it comes to looking after the safety and health of employees in the workplace, there will always be room to improve and it’s imperative we keep doing so. This research will greatly assist companies in reviewing existing strategies to ensure they are directed in the most appropriate areas and are achieving meaningful results,” Mr Everingham voiced.
The Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is also in the process of drafting a code of practice for ‘mentally healthy workplaces’ for FIFO workers in the WA resources and construction sectors. It is anticipated the code will reflect the outcomes of the research.
The full report can be found here.