Mental health of FIFO workers under the spotlight

Mental health of FIFO workers under the spotlight

Learn how one mining company is partnering with FIFO families to reach out to its workers and tackle mental health concerns

Mining can be a lonely and stressful occupation at times, especially when your workplace is thousands of kilometres from home and you’re classed as a FIFO worker.

“FIFO has created a new type of mining culture”

The birth of the FIFO worker has created a new problem for hoards of people as they leave their families and loved ones to traverse Australia. Remote mining operations in WA and Queensland have created a new type of mining culture, one where stress, anxiety and depression are commonplace.

Mental health issues are one of the main causes of accidents in the industry and can cause people to even take their own lives. This is a situation the industry can no longer tolerate.

Thankfully there have been numerous support groups created to assist workers and their families cope with the FIFO lifestyle. Working in a remote location not only affects the worker, but also has a dramatic effect on the people he/she leaves back home. When there are children involved, the FIFO lifestyle suddenly takes on a whole new perspective and many families are ill-equipped to deal with the situation.

So what can be done about it and is there a solution to the FIFO problems?

“coping with the stresses of living and working a FIFO lifestyle”

The larger mining companies like Rio Tinto, BHP, Fortescue Metals and now AngloGold have implemented strategies to help their employees cope with the stresses of living and working a FIFO lifestyle.

It seems incredible to think that AngloGold has been reported as the first gold mining company in Australia to show a positive interest and sign up for the program.

This new agreement will see its 400 workers at the Tropicana and Sunrise Dam mines in Western Australia, have the option to become part of the FIFO Families program via a membership system.

FIFO Families director Nicole Ashby said this was a welcomed move from AngloGold as more mining companies are realising there is evidence to support the argument that the mental health of workers is linked to the profitability of the company.

“Providing workers and families with the necessary skills and resources to navigate the FIFO lifestyle is paying dividends.”,  Ashby said.

“providing a unique support network”

AngloGold senior vice president – Australia, Mike Erickson, said “AngloGold recognise that FIFO work can sometimes present challenges for employees and their partners and families, and wanted to provide our people with the opportunity to take advantage of the unique support network and valuable information that FIFO Families offers”.

AngloGold have also been running an Employee Assistance Program to help its workers cope with the FIFO lifestyle, although this new alliance with FIFO Families will only strengthen the support network for workers who need help.

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