FIFO, Fairness and the Future

Trucks in Super Pit gold mine, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

SafetyAtWorkBlog’s article about the safety of Fly-In, Fly-Out workers has generated some discussion through its mention on LinkedIn which has raised some interesting points.

A common thread seems to be that it is impractical to build townships and facilities to support remote mine workers and which also provide services to workers’ families. One commenter posed these questions:

“Are we going to drag the FIFO families out to these areas, build houses for them, along with all the associated infrastructure to support them, for what may be only a 3-5 year construction program? Is it fair to drag the partners and families of FIFO workers away from their family supports (parents/friends, etc)? Away from decent medical care? Away from schools/universities?”

This may have been intended as rhetorical but prompts a question that I frequently ask when I consult with clients – “why not?”

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We need to ask tougher questions about FIFO

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On the recommendation of one of my subscribers I am currently listening to a podcast called Food For Thought which includes a discussion on the mental health issues associated with the Fly-In -Fly-Out (FIFO) work structure.  This article is being written as I listen to the podcast so follows the threads as spoken.

Various major Australian inquiries have been held into the occupational health and safety of FIFO workers for the mining sector. The potential psychological harm of FIFO is indisputable so why aren’t we asking the tough questions and thinking about the harm that we are allowing to occur?

Source: istockphoto

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Pfeffer cuts through on OHS

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“…if we truly care about human beings and their lives, including how long people live…. we need to first understand and then alter those workplace conditions that sicken and kill people” (page 25 – “Dying For A Paycheck”)

Jeffrey Pfeffer has been doing the rounds of the Safety and Human Resources conferences for some time, talking about “dying for a paycheck”.  This year he published a book of that title, a book that should be obligatory reading for occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals and, more importantly, company executives.

This book is one of the few that I have read from cover-to-cover and wanted to do so in as short a time as possible because I wanted to understand the big interconnected picture of business management and policy setting that Pfeffer discusses.

Pfeffer presents a lot of data packaged in a fresh and fascinating form but regularly complains about the lack of data.  One of the joys in the book is being tantalised by what data he presents but then being frustrated when realising that that is the extent of the data available.   Continue reading “Pfeffer cuts through on OHS”

Robotics may cause an apocalypse if you’re male, old and low-skilled

Australia’s Office of the Chief Economist has released its first Industry Insights document for 2018.  This one focusses on flexibility and growth and included this statement in the chapter written by Andrew Charlton, a Director, of AlphaBeta :

“At the macroeconomic level, much of this change has been positive. The economy has created new jobs that are, on average, better paid, more satisfying and safer than the jobs that were lost.” (page 19)

Safer jobs? The last claim sent me to the source of the data – 

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A new Senate inquiry into industrial deaths

Canberra, Australia – October 14, 2017: A view inside Senate chamber in Parliament House

Another Australian Government inquiry into workplace health and safety (WHS) was announced on March 26 2018.  According to the Senate Hansard, the Senate’s Education and Employment References Committee will report on a range of occupational health and safety (OHS) matters by the end of September 2018.

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