It is no secret that the lives of Western Australia’s FIFO workers are stressful. The work is sometimes dangerous and always demanding. A great many reports and studies show the significant toll this lifestyle takes on workers and their families. Fortunately, companies are paying attention and trying and improve the conditions (and thereby the mental well-being) of the over 60,000 FIFO workers.
When ABC News looked at how the mental health of FIFO workers compared to the community at large, they found that mental health distress is far more widespread among FIFO workers than in the rest of the population.
This, of course, begs the question, what are some tangible, concrete ways to improve the well-being of a group of workers that Western Australia (and the nation as a whole) depend on so profoundly?
What is Mental Health?
The term mental health is one of those familiar phrases that can be difficult to define. According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a state of well-being where the individual sees their abilities and potential, copes with everyday life stresses, and can contribute on the job, in their family, and their community.
Conversely, mental health struggles include,
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Studies of FIFO workers compared to a benchmark sample and a norm group showed that FIFO workers are alarmingly high in these areas of mental distress.
How Can Employers Help Reduce Mental Health Problems?
Fortunately, Curtin University’s Centre for Transformative Work Design Study Addressing Mental Health in FIFO Workers brought to light six ways to assist workers.
Protective FIFO Work Factors
1. Work Design
Allowing workers to choose their work methods or schedule the work for the day increases job satisfaction. The same is true for building reasonable workloads and job security into FIFO jobs.
2. Workplace Culture
By creating a community within the workers’ camps, there can be space for removing the stigma associated with mental health. If mental health issues are not a weakness and seeking help for mental health problems is a strength, workers will be more likely to seek help and work towards better mental health.
Adjusting the FIFO workers’ schedule makes a huge difference when it comes to mental health. FIFO workers who have two weeks on two weeks off and those with eight days on six days off or five days on and two days off have the best mental health among FIFO workers surveyed.
Another vital part of roster adjustment is to ensure workers have enough downtime to rest and interact with the family. FIFO workers and their spouses prefer the two weeks on and two weeks off schedule.
4. Support From Management and Fellow Workers
Educating labour and management about mental health issues is vital. Even the most supportive supervisor on the site may not know what to say or how to offer support to a worker struggling with mental health distress. The likelihood of addressing mental health issues increases when there is adequate education and understanding.
5. Social and Recreational Activities
Isolation and loneliness take a considerable toll on FIFO workers. If employers offered organised sports or a gym for working out, workers could get to know each other. Events like barbeques or movie nights are also good ways to boost morale and lessen mental strain.
Providing workers with well-maintained and spacious rooms help to improve their comfort and, in turn, their mental health. Additionally, workers who have a permanent room suffer less emotional distress than those who move regularly.
How Fox Transportables Can Help
While there is no doubt that FIFO accommodations have greatly improved since the days of tents or company towns, there is room for and a need for improvement.
At Fox Transportables, we have spent decades perfecting our customisable transportable units. Not only do we build to suit, but we also build to create a comfortable environment where workers can feel a bit of normalcy.
Our units are bright, clean, up-to-date, and climate-controlled. We make sure there is plenty of space for your crew to stretch out and relax after 12 hours on the job.
If you are looking to add specialty buildings, we can accommodate your needs. As the studies show, the mental health of FIFO workers significantly improves when their surroundings are pleasant, and they can access gyms, game rooms, and comfortable dining facilities.
We also carry a variety of second-hand stock for the budget-conscious. While the units may have been used, they do not show signs of wear and tear. All second-hand stock is carefully inspected and cleaned. We will deliver these transportables to your site looking as good as the day we built them.
Feel free to contact us with any questions or to arrange new accommodations. Fox Transportables makes it easy for you to take a step towards improving the mental well-being of your FIFO employees. And every journey begins with that first step.