Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnston has launched Australia’s first code of practice to help promote and maintain mentally healthy workplaces for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources and construction sectors.
Research released last year by the Mental Health Commission found that FIFO workers experience higher levels of psychological distress compared to non-FIFO workers.
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 code of practice was developed following extensive public consultation and aims to address hazards and risk factors in FIFO workplaces.
Parts of the code encourage organisations to adopt a risk management process to identify potential psychosocial hazards, establish a positive and supportive workplace culture, provide suitable accommodation and rosters with sufficient time for rest and recreation.
Minister Johnston said the WA Government is committed to driving change in mental health and improving the wellbeing of FIFO workers and their families.
“The code identifies a number of potential hazards and risk factors, such as work demands and low levels of control, and it promotes strategies to deal with these issues,” he said.
However, Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, the Hon Alison Xamon MLC, has said the code of practice, whilst an improvement on the draft previously circulated, still falls short of its promise as a meaningful guide for the prevention of adverse mental health and high suicide rates amongst FIFO workers.
“I have very real concerns about the Code’s ability to provide adequate guidance for managers, particularly those who are inexperienced or operating on small, new sites,” she said.
“When you consider that almost 10 per cent of WA’s population is directly involved in mining – and as the industry ramps up again that proportion is likely to increase – this is a huge issue for our community and one that the government must be taking concrete, and mandated, steps to address now.”
The Code of Practice can be found here.