Fly In Fly Out

In December 2010, The West Australian Newspaper ran an article on the West Australian remote mining industry, titled Fly In Fly Out Fuels Violence Epidemic. The piece cited the Queensland University of Technology’s recent research on problems associated with the FIFO model frequently used by the resources sector as the most cost-effective means of maintaining stable workforce in remote regions.[1]

The report, Globalization, Frontier Masculinities and Violence Booze, Blokes and Brawls was compiled by Professor Kerry Carrington, Head of School of Justice, Law Faculty, QUT, Brisbane, QLD and Alison McIntosh and John Scott. It questioned the health of the model, and drew clear links between FIFO, a largely segregated male workforce population and spikes in incidents of alcohol related violence in the mining towns where the FIFO models had been implemented.[2] Professor Carrington also maintained the three-year study revealed that workers were reporting an increased use in drugs and alcohol in the isolated mine environments where there was little in the way of passing time productively. “The result was a spike in violence, including brawls over women, sex workers and spilt drink [3].”

This model is in fact a major and central component of the mining industry in both Queensland and Western Australia and involves flying in and out of remote mining sites for work. Its major features are a compressed work schedule and longer shifts (up to twelve hours) whilst living on-site at the mine, followed by extended periods of block days off with family.

Tim Shanahan from the West Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy understands the issue and maintains the industry is doing all it can to improve sociological and psychological problems that may accompany the FIFO arrangements in some circumstances. “The fly-in fly-out arrangements underpin approximately half of the working operations that we have in the state of WA. It’s a very significant part of the way we do business. It’s not something that is just being left to languish. It’s something that we’re continuously looking at as to how we can do it better.”[4]

Whatever the stance, more will be revealed as research into the FIFO model is carried out and the system is refined and developed in tandem with current findings. Most importantly, a comprehensive and realistic approach to the issue of alcohol and drug use within mining populations is required as an underpinning feature of a healthy and viable FIFO workforce. If you require expert consultancy or drug testing at your FIFO site, call CMM Technology on 618 9204 2500


[1] The West – a subsidiary of The West Australian  http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/8459124/fly-in-fly-out-fuels-violence-epidemic/2/

[2] Carrington, Professor K., McIntosh, A., and Scott J. Globalization, Frontier Masculinities and Violence. Booze,  Blokes and Brawls. BRIT. J. CRIMINOL. (2010) 1 of 21 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD).

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/wa/content/2003/s991767.htm

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