Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report

A new report by the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, initiated in response to an alarming trend of reported suicides by fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers, found that 33% of them have experienced high levels of psychological stress and workplace bullying
Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report Psychological distress hits one-third of FIFO workers: report

The department studied more than 3,000 FIFO workers and their families for the research

The office studied more than 3,000 FIFO workers and their families for the research, which was completed in partnership with the industry, unions and Curtin University's Centre of Transformative Work Design, said a much lower percentage of non-FIFO miners, 17%, experienced that same distress.

In addition, incidents of workplace bullying and burnout were also higher with FIFO workers than their non-FIFO counterparts.

Funded by the McGowan government amd coming in at 500 pages, it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive FIFO resources studies to be undertaken to date in Australia.

Positively, the study additionally found that FIFO miners are already utilising a wide range of strategies for mental health management, such as maintaining regular communication with family and friends while on-site, and seeking mental health support when needed.

The office, though, still made 18 recommendations from its findings about other management avenues, including rosters and shift patterns that provide better rest time, permanent rooms at accommodation sites and building local community connections.

Government officials are now drafting a code of practice for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers in resources and construction, and expects the code will reflect the research outcomes.

"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," mental health minister Roger Cook explained.

"The McGowan government listened to families and the wider community, and agreed that more needed to be done, which is why we commissioned this research. 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."

A full copy of the report can be found here