Looking After The Mental Health of FIFO Workers
In Australia, suicide is the number one killer of men aged between 15-44, taking twice as many lives as road accidents. Because of this alarming statistic, we have seen a greater push especially within male-dominated industries like FIFO workplaces for the advocacy of workers mental health.
Risk Factors for Mental Health Issues among FIFO Workers
Looking at working conditions of FIFO workers, the combined effects of separation from families and friends, inadequate accommodation, demanding rosters, and harmful workplace culture, all contribute to the increasing risk of mental health issues and often limit workers access to adequate support.
Those workers who do not receive adequate support often turn to other coping mechanisms including heavy drinking, illegal drug use, and reliance on stimulant drinks, severely impacting their ability to work and aggravating their mental health issues.
WA Government Key Recommendations to Improve Mental Health
In response to a parliamentary inquiry into the mental health of FIFO workers – commissioned after nine WA miners took their own lives within one year – the WA Government has recently made key recommendations to improve the mental health of workers within FIFO communities.
These recommendations include:
- Compressed rosters that provide little time for recovery can lead to extreme fatigue, and seriously increase the risk of mental health issues, should be replaced with rosters that encourage even-time ie 2 weeks on, 1 week off.
- Accommodation should provide adequate recreational facilities and should minimize ‘motelling’ practices. They should also re-evaluate the ‘control over workers’ within the accommodation.
- Improved communication facilities providing the worker with high-quality, reliable, and accessible communication to families back home.
- Improved workplace anti-bullying procedures, to facilitate the reporting and prosecution of bullying claims.
- Improved acknowledgement by employers of the impact FIFO imposes on personal relationships, including financial pressures, and employment uncertainty.
- Initiatives to address workplace stigma that severely reduces the rate of workers receiving psychological help.
Elliotts Australia applauds these changes and hopes these changes go some way to reduce these appalling statistics. Elliotts are mindful of keeping FIFO workers safe so as to not add the additional stress of not having adequate safety work wear.
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