FIFO rosters not ideal according to DMP

The WA inquiry into FIFO-related mental health issues heard yesterday that no FIFO roster could be considered 100 per cent safe, ABC reported.

In the first day of public hearings at the inquiry Department of Mines and Petroleum executive director of safety Simon Ridge told the inquiry that suicides on mine sites were relatively rare. 

Those which occurred in or around residential mining camps did not fall under the jurisdiction of the DMP or Worksafe, and that only those which occurred in the workplace were included in official figures.

Ridge said that in his opinion there was no ideal roster for mining workers, and no roster could be considered "100 per cent safe."

He said there had been no research into whether there could be a safest length of roster.

Ridge also said that new mines safety legislation to be introduced in 2016 will specifically include the mental health of workers.

The Education and Health Parliamentary Standing Committee inquiry into mental health impacts of FIFO work arrangements was established to examine contributing factors to mental illness in the industry, as well as the relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks.

A recent submission by the AMMA claimed that there was no evidence of mental health issues being more pronounced in the resource sector than in other industries.

However, a submission to the inquiry by the Australian Association of Social Workers said that a 2014 study by Lifeline had found that compared to the general population there was a higher prevalence of psychological distress among FIFO workers (collectively 30 per cent).

Committee chairman and MP Graham Jacobs said evidence from the mines department and Worksafe indicated there was a lack of monitoring by government agencies in accommodation camps.

“There seems to be a significant gap in that monitoring jurisdiction responsibility and we will continue to pursue that with our inquiry to try and overcome the issues of confusion, those grey areas,” he said.