A 2015 report into the mental health of fly in fly out (FIFO) workers by the Western Australian Government highlighted the intense impacts on FIFO workers and their families.

The report noted the typical FIFO resource worker comes from the highest risk demographic, male aged 18 – 44, for mental illness and suicide.

 “FIFO takes such an individual away from home, puts him in isolation from his family and friends 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,” the report said.  

Finding 39 within the report stated managers and supervisors must be well trained in procedures to follow in the event of a suicide or attempted suicide and training should be practiced as it is for other critical work incidents.

“Since the report was released, we’ve noticed an upswing in the number of Western Australian resource companies making mental health exercises part of their annual site-based field exercises at their functional areas and operations,” said Dynamiq Strategy Managing Principal Rob Smart.

“One of these recent exercises was conducted for a large Australian miner in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

“We arranged for local emergency services, including police and ambulance, as well as contracted employee assistance providers to participate in the exercise, alongside the site’s own field response and incident management teams.

The simulated incident was a hit and run followed by a hostage situation. The emergency responders and incident management team practiced medical treatment and evacuation of multiple severely injured victims, escalation notification issues, two separate incident scenes requiring management, investigation and clean-up, operational interruptions, engagement and interaction with external agencies and management of media and other stakeholders.

“Practicing your response to mental health issues, means it’s on the agenda inside your organisation.

“Mental health exercises also provide an opportunity to practice for a wide range of indents from medical treatment, evacuation, recovery and stakeholder management,” Rob said.

To find out more about conducting mental health exercises at your organisation, contact Rob Smart.

Who's Rob? 

As Managing Principal – Dynamiq Strategy, Rob Smart oversees the advisory and consultancy team in Western Australia. He has more than 21 years experience in the industry and has worked for government and private industry.

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