AUSTRALIA: Fly-In, Fly-Out (FIFO) work can increase risk of mental health issues, West Australia parliamentary committee finds

August 07, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In some parts of Australia, miners are flown to remote locations to work, an arrangement leading to the term “Fly-In, Fly-Out” (FIFO) workers.” In the state of West Australia, a parliamentary committee commissioned to investigate whether such workers faced an elevated risk for suicide has issued a report that points to areas of concern for mental health and calls for better data collection on suicide attempts and deaths. In its report, the committee noted many FIFO workers are in a demographic with elevated suicide risk, and called for the industry to establish a code of practice to improve mental health conditions for all workers. It suggested the code of practice address work shifts, fatigue, workplace culture, relationship challenges for FIFO workers, communication, and living facilities. The report also urged that FIFO employers be legally required to collect data on workers’ suicidal behavior, and that the state coroner’s searchable database be expanded to include a field for occupation of decedents. Fiona Kalaf, chief executive of the suicide prevention group Lifeline West Australia, noted the significance of the code of practice recommendation, saying it “really acknowledged that mental health and safety should be treated with the same level of intent as physical health and safety.”

Spark Extra! Read about recent research on occupation and suicide risk.