WA Government to focus on tightening of codes of practice in response to FIFO report

Oct 23, 2015

The Western Australian Government believes that updating existing codes of practice can help alleviate concerns raised by the recent Parliamentary report into the impact of fly in, fly out (FIFO) on the mental health of workers in the resources industry.

Revealing the WA Government’s response to the report (which was covered in Issue #137 of PESA News, the State’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said the Government supported 14, noted 15 and partially supported one of the report’s 30 recommendations.

“Many of the aims and objectives of the recommendations can be achieved by reviewing and strengthening existing codes of practice,” he said.

“Planning is underway on a Work Health and Safety (Resources) Bill which will provide an opportunity to address other recommendations in the report.”

Mr Marmion said the health and safety of workers in the resources industry is one of the Government’s highest priorities.

“Mental health is a community-wide concern and any information highlighting factors influencing the incidence of mental health issues among vulnerable sections of the community is welcomed.

“We will now work with the Mining Industry Advisory Committee (MIAC) and the Mental Health Commission to address the report’s recommendations.”

WA Mental Health Minister Helen Morton welcomed the focus on further understanding the complex factors that contributed to mental illness and suicide risk among workers.

“A strong evidence base is vital as we continue to develop effective and targeted initiatives to support mental health in workplaces and to reduce the risk of suicide across the State,” Mrs Morton said.

The establishment of a detailed Code of Practice to manage the resource industry was one of the key findings of the Health Standing Committee’s inquiry into fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mental health issues and suicide incidents that was tabled in June.

In his summation of the 168 report which was compiled after a 10 month investigation, Committee Chairman, Dr Graham Jacobs, MLA, said one of the key understandings garnered from the inquiry’s research was that the typical FIFO resource worker comes from the highest risk demographic (male aged 18 – 44) for mental illness and suicide.

Dr Jacobs said that the FIFO regimes takes such an individual regularly away from home, puts him in isolation from his family and other social supports, subjects him to fatigue and then controls his life within the camp environment.

“Understandably, this can have a significant impact on his emotional health and wellbeing,” Dr Jacobs said.

“Due to the high risk demographic profile and the higher incidence of mental distress amongst the FIFO group, the Committee has recommended the development of a Code of Practice to address FIFO work arrangements and their impact on workers’ mental health. This Code of Practice should provide guidance of best practice to promote improved mental and emotional health and wellbeing amongst the workforce,” Dr Jacobs added.

He said the committee also noted that confusion was evident around which regulator had jurisdiction for overseeing the occupational health and safety matters impacting on the FIFO worker.



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