COVID-19 safety measures on fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) worksites, including longer rosters and the shutting of areas where workers socialise, have worsened the already isolating experience of FIFO work and may have long-term mental health impacts, according to the leader of a major Australian study.
Dr Jess Gilbert from Curtin University’s Centre for Transformative Work Design is leading a study on FIFO workers’ experiences during the pandemic in hopes of informing FIFO operations and preparing employers for future risks.
The study asks questions about comprehensive mental health, the changes that have been occurring and how workers are managing these changes, and in particular what support has been useful and what further support workers need.
Dr Gilbert says the results will be useful to industry in developing and innovating ways to support FIFO workers in this changing landscape.
“FIFO workers and employers are navigating unknown territory and it has been a balancing act of managing compliance with COVID-19 protocols as well as supporting workers wellbeing and connection to home.”
“There has been a lot of change including longer rosters, travel restrictions, managing self-isolation requirements, managing social distancing on-site and other on-site changes to comply with current protocols (closing common/leisure areas, staggering meal times).”
“This may mean that workers are staying on-site for longer periods of time in a situation that could be more isolating, away from their families and home communities, which are important sources of support.”
“It is important to consider what the risks are to mental health, and what the protective factors are, so that risks can be minimised and the protective factors strengthened. We aim for this project to help inform what the risks are in this situation and what some key protective factors are to help support workers.”
The study is ongoing and is seeking workers who work FIFO (and other long-distance commute styles) in the resources industry to contribute.
Learn more and take the survey here.