Mental health, News, Work health and safety

New insights into life as a WA miner

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Curtin University has released a new study on workplace culture across Western Australia’s mining sector.

The study, prepared for the WA Government, surveyed 2550 mine workers across the state to understand their perceptions of mental health awareness, respect, and safety. A further 60 workers were interviewed one-on-one.

The study found one key area of strength for the industry was safety. Most WA mine workers reported high levels of physical safety behaviours such as safety compliance and safety participation.

Levels of safety behaviours in the sample group of miners were higher on average than benchmarks in similar industries.

“It is pleasing to report that this commitment to physical safety appears to have been integrated within the industry to a high level, although some variation still exists,” the study noted.

The study also identified positive trends relating to fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) work. Specifically, more workers are being employed on even-time rosters (equal time on and off) and provided with permanent accommodation compared to five years ago.

Although the mining industry has taken strides to understand and improve mental health and workplace culture, the survey found that issues such as burnout and sexual harassment persist.

Reports of sexual harassment such as coercion and unwanted attention are declining, but the study found that other forms such as misogyny and sexism remain. Bullying is also showing signs of decline, but continues to disproportionately impact women compared to men.

Women and younger workers generally tended to report poorer mental health and well-being.  However, supports such as mental health awareness training and informal check-ins were cited as being helpful for protecting workers’ mental health and wellbeing.

“While industry has made progress on changing workplace culture, changing entrenched attitudes will take time and the Cook Government acknowledges there is more work to be done,” Industrial Relations Minister Simone McGurk said.

“I welcome the release of the latest landmark study report – it’s vital that we continue to learn about worker experiences, attitudes and behaviours on WA mine sites if we are to make them safer, and encourage more women into the industry.”

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