Even-time roster rethink urged for FIFO workers

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoMore than double fly-in fly-out workers suffer from mental health illnesses than in any other workplace

A former union official-turned State MP is urging the resources industry to adopt equal-time rosters in the wake of another report into mental health issues facing fly-in, fly-out workforces.

Among 18 recommendations made by the State Government’s Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers report was a call to implement even-time or shorter roster schedules, after data showed psychological stress was more prevalent among those on longer swings.

Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Kyle McGinn said Gold Fields Australia’s recent move to highlight family-friendly rosters at the Gruyere project was a good example of industry getting on the front foot.

“That is exactly what we are after — industry making decisions themselves and going out there and spruiking it to the public,” he said.

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“Companies with equal-time rosters and family-friendly rosters should be vocal about it.

“I believe there is a critical role to play in industry leading the way without being forced.”

Mr McGinn said while industry had made strides in collaborating to cut costs, coming together to improve mental health could still use work.

The release of the latest report comes three years after the State Government tabled its last probe into the mental health of FIFO workers.

In June 2015, a report presented to the former State Government carried 30 recommendations. These included encouragement of family-friendly rosters, development of a database to monitor reportable deaths, all suicides and attempted suicides be reported regardless of location or motivation

Half of the recommendations were supported, none were implemented by the former government.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA chief executive Paul Everingham said industry had taken the lead on implementing recommendations it could address.

“There is significant work happening in industry focusing on building peer support and breaking down stigma,” he said.

“Initiatives range in nature and are tailored to be fit for purpose depending on the type of workforce and the cultural stage of the operation.”

Mr Everingham said it was overly simplistic to assert implementing even-time rosters would have a meaningful effect on mental health.

“(The research) looked at a variety of interacting factors and found a range of factors related to the workplace, individual and external environment, were significant in influencing mental health outcomes,” he said.

“This is an important finding as it demonstrates there is no single ‘quick fix’ and a holistic approach, with shared responsibility between organisations, individuals and the broader community required to meaningfully influence the mental health and wellbeing of workers.”

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is drafting a code of practice reflecting outcomes from the latest report for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers.

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