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Innovative FIFO health and well being program wins national AREEA award

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Nathan Rowden, McDermott

A McDermott Australia health and wellbeing program focussing on offshore construction and maritime workers, has been recognised by the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AREEA).

McDermott Australia implemented the ‘FIFOcus Offshore Wellness’ Program to cater for the unique needs of its workers aboard two construction vessels servicing the INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG Project, offshore north-western Australia.

Hugh Cuthbertson, McDermott’s Vice President for Asia said, “We are honoured to be recognized by AREEA.  This is an innovative program based on four pillars, Mental Health, Emotional Stability, Social Engagement and Physical Wellbeing, designed specifically to cater to the needs of our workforce offshore and delivered in their workplace”.

“Participation in the holistic, inclusive and contemporary program was voluntary, but absolutely encouraged to all personnel on board a McDermott facility, direct employees and contractor personnel alike.”

The program aims to engage, focus and raise awareness of personal wellbeing among workers by improving the support systems available to its people offshore.

“Often these workers are portrayed as bold and brave men which discourages them from showing emotional or mental distress,” AREEA Director Industry Services, Tara Diamond said.

“However we know that mental health evidence highlights this is far from the truth.”

“In many cases, these are the ones who need mental health resources more than others.”

Championed by the offshore medic, the program includes regular visitors to the vessels to delivered presentations, quiz nights, exercise/relaxation, meditation classes, nutrition and health and wellbeing information packages, fitness competitions, flu vaccinations and a variety of other services all tailored at the key areas that the offshore workforce deemed most relevant.

The support services are easily accessible with program content determined by the workforce.

A physical fitness coordinator provides workout programs and advises on healthy physical lifestyle topics onboard the vessel focussing on the link between physical health and its importance in attaining a focused and positive frame of mind.

The program includes regular visits from a clinical psychologist, along with 24/7 services such as the offshore medic, and one-on-one phone counselling and helpline contacts.

It also targeted family members of the workforce, bringing them all together as a unit to ease the feeling of isolation, including the development of a family event calendar with ideas of community events for when they were home and access to counselling support and assistance.

A family calendar competition encouraged participation by family members and helped the family understand the job their loved one does while they’re away.

Initially implemented as a six-month pilot program, FIFOcus has now been in operation for one-and-a-half years and is now more of a culture among crew members that they are proud and enthusiastic about promoting.

“FIFOcus has driven positive change and it’s an initiative we are pleased to acknowledge for its success,” Ms Diamond said.

Some of the success stories from FIFOcus include:

– Supervisors speaking up to their crewmembers about personal mental health issues and difficult times;

– Individuals losing up to 6kg in weight as part of the structured weight loss challenges;

– Personnel utilising the quit smoking campaign aids, and one who quit a 25-year habit;

– Regular attendance at social events held onboard like quiz/trivia sessions; and,

– The participation of crew’s children/loved ones in activities offered to engage the wider offshore community which made a great positive impact on the health and wellbeing of team members working offshore.

– An engaged and connected offshore team contributing to the successful and safe delivery of McDermott’s offshore operations in Australia.

Also, Morris Corporation was highly commended by the judges for its work with the Morris Health and Lifestyle Program – Strong Mind Body and Spirit.

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