Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) is an often inevitable aspect of working in the mining industry, and the long hours and shift work can take a toll on physical health and wellbeing. However, there are key amenities that mining operations can offer FIFO workforces to showcase a commitment to alleviating the burden of FIFO lifestyles and securing the physical and mental health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Healthier meal options

When it comes to maximising output in a FIFO workforce, a fundamental step is ensuring the food they’re consuming is healthy and nutritious. Working longer hours and being away from family can make it easy for workers to default to unhealthier comfort foods when onsite.

Results from a study conducted in 20221 which surveyed FIFO workers in Australia’s mining industry found that although workers had good physical health status (91.2 per cent), 71.4 per cent were overweight/obese (BMIs were calculated using participants’ self-reported height and weight).

Ensuring that workers have access to a large range of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as wholemeal options can help workers maintain a healthy lifestyle onsite. Some newly-developed FIFO accommodation facilities offer workers expanded menus and a wider range of dining options, as well as smoothie and juice bars.

Holistic wellbeing facilities

Hand-in-hand with offering more nutritious meal options comes the need to provide a more comprehensive approach to health and wellbeing. Having a dedicated team onsite committed to supporting the wellbeing of workers is also an important step in a holistic health approach.

Incorporating this holistic approach is a focus for mining companies that are creating new FIFO facilities or revitalising existing locations. Plans for future FIFO accommodation incorporate a range of fitness options for workers to utilise, such as gyms, swimming pools, indoor fitness centres, multi-purpose sports courts and running tracks.

Complementing these facilities are onsite health and wellbeing teams offering workout classes, nutrition consultations, health coaching and personal training.

Advanced accommodation

Traditionally, the FIFO lifestyle involves workers spending extended amounts of time away from their family and friends, which can often lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

A critical factor in bolstering FIFO workers’ mental health is facilitating their continued connection to their loved ones offsite. This means providing reliable, fast internet connections, as is being rolled out at FIFO sites across the country.

Emerging FIFO accommodation facilities are also offering larger, more inclusive lodging options for workers. These pod-like rooms are suitable for singles or couples, and offer larger beds, adjoining ensuites and kitchenettes in the hopes of encouraging a more diverse workforce.

This new kind of accommodation prioritises worker comfort, boasting air conditioning, increased privacy and security and a personal laundry with washer dryer – negating the need for workers to use communal laundries.

Engaging entertainment

FIFO workers work hard so providing outlets where they can unwind is important for mental wellbeing. Giving workers enjoyable, fun ways to spend their free time can go a long way in building their happiness and improving their mental health.

Mining companies acknowledge this, and emerging FIFO facilities are expanding to include broader recreation options, including cinemas, mini golf courses and golf simulators. Other FIFO recreation facilities offered across Australia include beach volleyball, walking and cycling paths.

FIFO work can be unavoidable, but mining companies are increasingly working hard to ensure that their workforce is taken care of and able to perform at their best, and this endeavour starts with FIFO.

Footnotes:

  1. 1. Asare BY, Robinson S, Powell D, Kwasnicka D. Health and related behaviours of fly-in fly-out workers in the mining industry in Australia: a cross-sectional study.
    Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2023 Jan;96(1):105-120. doi: 10.1007/s00420-022-01908-x. Epub 2022 Jul 25. PMID: 35879565; PMCID: PMC9312312.
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