Lobby group plays down mental health issues in FIFO mines

The mining lobby group Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) has made a statement to the West Australian government inquiry into FIFO mental health, forwarding the claim that mental illness and self-harm was no more prevalent in the mining workforce than in other industries.

In a submission to the WA Legislative Assembly’s Education and Health Standing Committee Inquiry into Mental Health Impacts of FIFO Work Arrangements, the AMMA said it was cognisant of objective data that pointed to levels of mental illness in the mining sector.

The data supplied in the submission was a 2013 report from Safe Work Australia, showing the number of mental stress claims made at work.

The mining industry accounted for only 0.6 per cent of mental stress claims in 2013.

“Notably, mental stress claims by industry appear to be significantly higher in the health and community services sector (20.5 per cent of mental stress claims), followed by education (16 per cent) and personal and other services (13.6 per cent),” the submission said.

The construction industry accounted for only 1.6 per cent of mental stress claims.

In the health and community services sector, of the 5852 mental stress claims made in 2013, 4557 were made by women.

In the education sector where 4554 claims were made, only 1218 of those claims were made by men.

In the mining sector, only 158 claims were made, however 126 of those claims were made by men.

The Worksafe report made no differentiation between FIFO and non-FIFO workers.

The AMMA also cited research from the HILDA Survey (Melbourne University) which “indicates that male workers in the resource sector are not at higher suicide risk when compared to mental health and emotional wellbeing of men in other industries”, but did not demonstrate the research.

Also quoted was The Griffith’s Australia Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, which said their study “found very little evidence of poor mental health or emotional well-being among miners.”

The AMMA submission did not refer to length of roster in relation to mental health risks, or differentiate between rosters in mining production and rosters in mining construction.

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