With 24/7 operations, heavy machinery, demanding rosters, intensive interstate commutes, disruptive sleep and challenging working conditions, FIFO working environments are continually a serious fatigue risk in Australian mining.
Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. It is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.
One of the contributing factors that exacerbate fatigue is harsh working conditions, in which most tasks are reactive, repetitive, and performed under high pressure. These are all synonymous to the mining industry.
Cumulative or prolonged fatigue can really affect someone’s mental and physical well-being. It can also affect a person’s sleep, mood, and stress levels. Exposure to heat, cold, vibration or noisy workplaces can also be a contributing factor to poor health too.
So how can you manage your FIFO fatigue? Here are a few tips to help manage fatigue both onsite and on your break;
Develop a healthy sleep routine
Our body needs sleep to restore and rejuvenate. Sleep is our only effective, long-term strategy to prevent and manage fatigue. Avoiding alcohol, having a regular wind-down bedtime routine, controlling the sleep environment (temperature and lighting) and limiting the use of TVs, computers and phones before bed are great ways to establish good sleep hygiene.
Get plenty of exercise
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and both of these things help you keep stress and fatigue at bay.
While many mine sites have a gym, you don’t need to rely on them to make sure you have a fitness routine to keep you in shape. You could bring a skipping rope on site, or you could do a few rounds of burpees before you start your day while you’re waiting for the bus.
There are real advantages to decent periods to spend at home in between work. Kill two birds with one stone by arranging a workout session with a friend. Enjoy the outdoors and work out together while catching up.
Many gyms, sporting clubs, training providers and social groups now allow FIFO memberships, ensuring you are maximising both your money and effort.
Make full use of the technology available
Nowadays reading, watching TV or listening to music is made easier thanks to podcasts, streaming services and apps which can be accessed on the go.
Online counselling and health advice services are becoming more accessible and easier to reach in remote settings. Utilise these services when you need added support.
FaceTime and instant messaging have transformed our ability to connect socially with a loved one and curb that feeling of isolation. This allows us to decompress and lean on our support network when we are needing additional help to fight stress.
Join in on activities on site
A call for better recreational facilities and social activities has paved the way for a great investment to the well-being of the FIFO community. Larger mining companies have modernised onsite health and well-being programs that you can maximise during your swing.
Facilities such as volleyball courts, swimming pools, well-equipped gyms, and walking or cycling paths are features of some of the best sites. Social and physical connection with others can help reduce stress.
Try to focus on the reason you chose to work FIFO in the first place
Whatever your motivation, whether is it your loved ones, a hobby you enjoy on your r&r or a particular goal you are working toward, ensure it stays front and centre of your focus while onsite. Pimp your donga with pictures of things matter to you most and be sure to check in with friends and family regularly.
If you approach your career with clear goals and expectations, a realistic budget and a time frame in mind, a career in mining can certainly help you set yourself up for life.
There aren’t many jobs that allow you to save as much as remote work does. Mining demands a high level of skills, and in return, employees receive high wages. A FIFO worker’s salary can be very lucrative and they are some of the highest-paid employees in Australia. Apart from the financial gain alone, the FIFO lifestyle has many unexpected benefits.
Remember, above everything else, reach out to your manager or supervisor if you need additional support with your fatigue management.
The content in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. We recommend consulting with a registered health practitioner for more tailored health support.