A symposium on health in the mining industry has heard the Fly-In-Fly-Out lifestyle of mining employees can have an impact on mental health. The symposium was held in Tamworth on Thursday, hosted by the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Resources, Health and Safety. Professor Brian Kelly said extensive research is being conducted into the impact of the FIFO lifestyle, and living away from family and friends, on mental health. Professor Kelly said mining companies are starting to do more to ensure the good mental health of their workers. “We are undertaking research in that field to look at the mental heath needs of people working in the industry,” he said. “There are anecdotes but we need much better anecdotes to really understand what the risks are. “We know that any work that might involve being more isolated from family and friends can carry risks and I think we do need a lot more information about this before we start making any hard and fast conclusions.” Professor Kelly said the mining industry is trying to improve the way it provides mental health support for workers. “The mining industry has been really taking a bit of a lead there and seeing this as something that needs to be improved,” he said. “One of the things that underpins this is that we’ve been looking at how important mental health is to safety in the workplace and that is an area that hasn’t been given as much attention before and is really starting to be put under the microscope.”
This article first appeared ABC, 13 March 2015.