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More research on how fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) work affects mental health has been recommended by a Queensland parliamentary report.

“While the exact prevalence of mental health conditions in FIFO workers is currently unknown, there is a clear recognition that there are a range of general workplace stress factors and specific aspects of the FIFO role that may put workers, their families and communities at risk for mental health problems,” the report stated.

According to the report, some of these factors and aspects include the following: separation from family and friends, transitioning between home and work life and the disruption to family life, maintaining regular meaningful communication with family and friends, and fatigue.

The report recommends the Queensland Minister for State Development, in consultation with the Office of Industrial Relations and Queensland Mental Health Commission, undertake additional mental health research.

Among the issues to be researched, the report suggests examining the resilience of FIFO workers, workplace programs or external programs to prevent mental health injuries in FIFO workers, family support programs, and suicide risk and protective factors.

Meanwhile the Western Australian (WA) Government has responded to the findings of a WA parliamentary report into the impact of FIFO work on the mental health of workers in the resources industry.

“We will now work with the Mining Industry Advisory Committee (MIAC) and the Mental Health Commission to address the report’s recommendations,” WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Marmion said in a media statement.

The WA Government welcomed the report’s recommended focus on improving the understanding of the complex factors that contribute to mental illness and suicide risk among workers.

The WA Government is also looking at changing existing codes of practice in response, and addressing some of the recommendations in the WA Work Health and Safety (Resources) Bill.

For more details, visit the Queensland parliamentary report and the WA response

Published on 22 October 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today.

A Western Australian (WA) parliamentary inquiry into how fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work affects mental health recommends a number of changes to health and safety laws.

The inquiry calls for the definition of the term ‘health’ to include ‘mental health’ and the term ‘hazard’ to include ‘psychological hazard’ in WA occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation.

The OHS legislation should also change to apply to FIFO workers who are off shift in a residential facility.

Mine managers should also report all suicides and attempted suicides to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP). In addition, all deaths, regardless of the cause, the location on the mine site or whether the worker was on or off shift, should be reported.

The inquiry also calls for the introduction of a FIFO code of practice. This would include provisions for even-time rosters, and rosters that support mental health and wellbeing, such as two weeks on, one week off, or eight days on, six days off, the inquiry report adds.

For more details, visit the inquiry report

Published on 2 July 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.


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