Western Australia’s fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers aren’t getting enough rest, according to the scientists behind the world’s largest study of its kind.
- The study found that FIFO employees “barely shave” the threshold for adequate rest on holidays, let alone work days.
- Studies show that lack of rest reduces miner alertness by 20% over 14 days.
- Experts say a healthy routine is the key to good sleep for all shift workers
Researchers at Edith Cowan University tracked the sleep of 88 first-in, first-out workers and found that most employees “barely shaved off” the threshold for adequate rest on holidays, let alone shift days. I understand.
“As humans, we need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night,” said adjunct associate professor Ian Duncan.
“People are getting about six hours of sleep while they work. [12 hour] Day shift, after 5.5 hours [12 hour] night shift,” he said.
According to the study, this lack of rest reduced workers’ alertness at mining sites by 20% over a 14-day swing, with rest days being useless.
“I thought I needed a day off to make up for the lack of sleep I’ve had over the past two weeks, but I’m only getting about 7 hours and 10 minutes on average, so I’m barely scratching the green zone of getting enough sleep. Only,” said Dr. Duncan.
Restful Roster Optimization
Albany resident Patrick McLennan has spent 20 years navigating the whimsical world of FIFO sleep and has worked in a variety of roster systems.
He said good rest depends on a strict routine and a consistent roster.
“The best I’ve come across is two weeks on, two weeks off,” he said.
“You just get there, spend two weeks, then go home. While you’re on that shift, you work either a full-time day shift or a full-time night shift,” McLennan said.
“[There was] No juggling trying to manage roster or sleep or anything else.
“An even roster settles all the drama about flights, beds, etc.”
Dr. Dunican agreed that consistency is the key to good sleep, but said there is no perfect roster.
“I wish I had, I’d rather sleep on a bed of money,” he joked.
But he said new research points to a promising system.
“From an employee satisfaction standpoint, it’s better…basically less time on the job,” he said.
“But that comes with a little less cash as opposed to two jobs. [on] and one [off] It’s a roster, so people don’t make that much money.
“It also increases costs for businesses [which] We need more flights, more accommodation, and more transportation. ”
Routine keys for all shift workers
For McLennan, a good roster goes hand in hand with a good personal routine on the ground.
“[It’s better to] stay in the routine [even on night shift] …wake up at 3:00 p.m., get some hours of sunshine to recharge and exercise,” he said.
“When you become a lounge lizard, you can’t stand the night shift.
“Please follow a regular diet and refrain from alcohol.”
Dr. Dunican endorsed the system, saying it applies to everyone working shifts, not just resources.
“There are a lot of wrong strategies out there, people taking alcohol, reaching dangerous levels, trying to fall asleep, eating the wrong foods… So even when it comes to personal education, I We can do a lot more,” he said. .
Change in industry focus
Dr. Dunican said the mining industry was starting to take sleep seriously, but more work was needed to protect the sleep health of workers in WA’s top sector.
He said the ECU study was the largest of its kind in the world, but still had a relatively small sample size.
“I have been working in mining for the last 20 years and I really regret not doing more in this area,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Chamber of Minerals and Energy said worker health is a priority for the industry.
“Companies in the mining and resources sector are offering a range of roster options to ensure adequate time for rest, recovery, and recreation,” said the Chamber of Commerce.
“They also create rosters and work shifts to be as family and people friendly as possible.”