The Lifeline WA anonymous survey of 924 FIFO and drive-in-drive-out workers revealed stress was largely caused by separation from home and family.
Most FIFO workers said they had minimal knowledge of the realities of FIFO before joining the industry. Capping rosters to a maximum of three weeks away from home would reduce the pain of separation from family.
Lifeline WA CEO Fiona Kalaf said the study showed higher compression rosters were more stressful and workers reported stress levels peaked in the days before they left for work again.
‘Being the largest research project in this sector, we know there are three barriers ” knowledge of the FIFO lifestyle, accessibility to mental health support and the biggest issue is the stigma attached to seeking help,’ she said.
‘There’s a lot of work we can do and employers can do to help build the knowledge prior to people starting the FIFO lifestyle and also when they are on board.
‘It’s about ensuring the knowledge sticks – it might be repeating the information in timely and relevant ways and we know that there is robust support offered onsite but it’s a matter of ensuring workers know there is that support.’
The report findings noted a series of mental, physical and emotional issues were affecting workers in WA’s 90,000-strong industry.
Ms Kalaf said stigma was the main barrier to help seeking.
‘There is still this fear of being perceived to be soft or weak if workers seek help for a mental illness or emotional crisis,’ she said.
‘We do know in general people report having great relationships with their colleagues so if we could harness that then we could break down that stigma.
‘If we can help the workers feel confident to seek help when they need help then that would be a great outcome.’