Report finds Alberta’s ‘fly-in, fly-out’ oilsands workers face significant stress, reluctant to seek help

A new report looking at the mental health and well-being of “fly-in, fly-out” (FIFO) workers employed in Alberta’s oilsands suggests extra must be finished to assist workers take care of important stress that comes from residing in work camps.

“The report I feel in some ways solidifies issues that folks anecdotally know already concerning the impacts of fly-in, fly-out work on employees’ psychological well being and well-being,” stated Sara Dorow, a sociologist on the College of Alberta who co-authored the report. “I’d say that if something stunned us it was among the diploma to which a few of these points have been affecting employees.

“We all know already that being away from dwelling and household is tough… What we didn’t anticipate maybe is the diploma to which individuals report that being an issue.”

The report noticed 72 oilsands employees be interviewed in late 2019 and early 2020 earlier than follow-up interviews have been carried out a number of months later. Most of these interviewed have been employees who arrive from different locations in Alberta and
throughout Canada “for rotations of six to 21 days, residing in work camps whereas working 10- or 12-hour shifts at close by worksites,” in accordance with the report.

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READ MORE: Inside the oilsands site that has seen Canada’s largest workplace COVID-19 outbreak 

The research discovered 87 per of individuals reported both some or lots of stress from being far-off from family members.

“The problem of creating and sustaining relationships with household, emotions of loneliness and the shortcoming to be at dwelling for household occasions or emergencies are important stressors amongst FIFO employees,” the report reads.

Seventy-seven per cent of the research’s individuals reported both some or lots of stress from residing in work camps, both as a result of they felt trapped, had restricted or unhealthy meals choices, poor sleep or different causes.

Over two-thirds of individuals reported stress from their commute to work.

“Members’ rankings of normal psychological well being and each day stress are worse than is discovered within the inhabitants,” the report reads. “About half rated their psychological well being as excellent or wonderful (46%) or rated most days as considerably or very aggravating (51%).

“Almost half (46%) of survey individuals had recognized long-term well being situations, with half of those (51%) describing their situations as psychological or each psychological and bodily. These proportions are greater than is reported within the normal inhabitants.

“A couple of-third of individuals (35%) had sought assist for his or her psychological well being (counselling, medicine, and/or info) up to now 12 months — twice as excessive as reported within the normal inhabitants. Essentially the most frequent causes cited for in search of assist have been household and relationship points, anxiousness, despair, trauma, and normal psychological well being.”

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Whereas over three-quarters of the research’s individuals stated that they had entry to health-care providers whereas at work or in camp, over half of these individuals “indicated they’d not use these providers; this was very true for
well being care supplied on web site, the place 57 per cent of individuals with entry to those providers indicated they have been ‘unlikely’ to make use of them.”

“Folks have been actually involved about shedding a job or holding a job in the event that they have been to report a severe well being concern,” Dorow stated. “That is exacerbated by the actual fact we had lots of contract employees within the research.

“That is of grave concern… We do know that within the building trades for instance, there’s a greater price of suicide. And so truly ensuring that there’s a house for individuals to… report psychological well being points is de facto essential.”

READ MORE: Alberta documentary sheds light on men in the oilpatch and suicides 

Dorow stated some individuals feared there can be repercussions for in search of psychological assist like harm to their fame or being extra prone to be laid off or not rehired.

“There will be type of a tricky man factor: ‘You simply should powerful it out,’” she stated. “That is deepened by fly-in, fly-out.”

Dorow stated the work is solely a strategy to generate profits for a lot of workers and that there’s a tradition that pushes employees to just accept the stress as merely a part of the job.

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“To say that this isn’t for the weak-minded is clearly an issue within the sense that there could also be situations which can be being ignored,” she stated.

Sexual harassment and discrimination

The report says over two-thirds of feminine individuals reported experiencing discrimination at work.

“A number of the gendered findings are actually necessary,” Dorow stated. “I used to be stunned by what number of ladies reported discrimination and harassment… But in addition the impacts of fly-in, fly-out on ladies… There was a a lot greater proportion of girls who reported issue sleeping in camp.”

Dorow, who stated she has been conducting analysis within the oilsands on and off for about 15 years, stated she believes among the points highlighted within the report might be addressed comparatively merely, like guaranteeing partitions are thick sufficient that somebody at a piece camp can’t hear loud night breathing within the room subsequent to them, or guaranteeing wholesome meals selections are made out there.

“We additionally present in our report some proof of cumulative results of the longer you do that, the extra there is perhaps cumulative results of labor/life imbalance and stress and pressure,” she stated. “It actually must be checked out systematically.”

Dorow stated guaranteeing employees really feel comfy accessing psychological well being helps is a key concern.

“How will we create a supportive surroundings…the place psychosocial security is entrance and centre… So individuals really feel like they’ll come ahead if they’ve points and may get secure third-party assist once they want it.”

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Dorow stated the research was “not as systematic as we’d have hoped,” and she or he hopes extra analysis is finished on the topic to spur governments, corporations and employees to work collectively to handle the problems at hand.

© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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