FIFO taking its toll on workers

by Cameron Edmond17 Jun 2013

The increased prevalence of Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) and Drive-In-Drive-Out work has resulted in a surge of job opportunities and access to a broader range of employees for the mining industry. However, a recent study by Lifeline WA has found workers are starting to feel the burn.

The study, which covered 924 respondents, found the stress levels of workers on FIFO rosters increased in the week leading up to returning to work, peaking while at work, and then dropping in the days leading to their return home. The study also found workers with partners and children experienced greater stress overall.

Many of the workers mentioned they got along well with their co-workers and demonstrated ”coping behaviours”. However, stress became a problem for workers due to reluctance to seek help, as well as a lack of knowledge of the support services available.

Despite these findings, positive impacts of FIFO work have also recently been reported. Kasey Boutle, whose husband is a FIFO worker, told The West Australian that FIFO work had positively impacted their family, giving them more time together and allowing the couple to start a part-time business together. Lifeline WA’s study revealed similar information, finding most FIFO workers saw the benefits of their work primarily being the increase of time they could spend with their family.

HR Take-Aways

Although Lifeline WA’s study focused on FIFO workers, their recommendations can be applied to any organisation with an interest in improving the wellbeing of employees, especially if the nature of the work is unusual:

  • Foster and encourage help-seeking behaviour within the organisation.
  • Develop specific support that will target the needs of the group in question.
  • Pre-employment supports. Most FIFO workers were unaware of what to expect and how to cope – does this apply to your organisation, too?
  • Reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.

To hear more about driving engagement of FIFO workers, join us at the upcoming HR Summit Perth on 7-8 August. Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Ngarda Civil and Mining, Pilbara Regional Council, The Right Group and The Resource Channel will be holding a panel discussion covering the many aspects of this topic.


Most Read