FIFO workers have reported suffering from stress, fatigue and anxiety. This type of work can also take a toll on personal relationships. Mining companies are aware of the problems these jobs can cause and do spend money on maintaining their employee’s mental health and general well being. Education and preparation can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy FIFO mindset.
Shift work has always taken its toll on workers, but more so on mine employees. Poor mental health can have the flow on effect of substance abuse, so it is important to learn how to manage fatigue. If left untreated, fatigue can lead to stress and alcohol or drug abuse. Long shifts can also take a toll on an employee’s physical and mental health. Education programs can help you cope with these shifts.
Shift work involves long hours working in a tough environment and sometimes an unkind climate. This can take a toll on the mental and physical state of any worker. Judgment and ability to function properly can be impaired by extreme fatigue. This can cause anxiety and emotional tension for the FIFO worker. Mining companies run employee assistance programs on sleep management.
Many people think working two or three weeks on and having one week off would be a dream job. Living in remote areas with structured work, meal and break times and being isolated from other people can lead to relationship problems and can also cause accidents and a risk to safety. Mining companies offer assistance with planning your finances, what to expect onsite, how to plan for your time away from the mine and how to stay in communication with your family.
Long weeks away from home can put pressure on relationships. Often, because of their isolation, FIFO workers feel they are missing out on family celebrations and interaction with friends and family members. Families always look forward to having their loved one home, but there is a period of adjustment on both sides. This transition can lead to stress, anxiety and pressure and can also lead to mental health issues. Employees and their families should take advantage of pre-employment education so they will be aware of the challenges ahead.
Many FIFO workers do not seek help because of the unseen barrier of stigma attached to reaching out. Although help is at hand, many workers will not actively seek help. It is important to talk to onsite psychologists and counsellors to ensure good mental health and to overcome the feelings of powerlessness. Working in the mines can be quite regimented in relation to set meal times and living in a confined environment and you will need to learn how to manage this effectively.
Many companies offer new employees training programs on what to expect when undertaking working in the mining industry. Counselling in relation to health problems are also now offered post-employment. Training in preparation for working in the mining industry is also offered by One Key Resources where specific training is conducted for FIFO work in the fields of mining, civil industries and gas. There are many effective coping behaviours initiated by mining companies that are now steering away from the ‘harden up’ attitude. With help, FIFO workers are learning to manage the impact mining work has on their mental health.
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