Heat Acclimatisation: The impact of fly in fly out (FIFO) rosters on heat acclimatisation of Australian open cut miners
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Heat acclimatisation improves the body’s ability to thermoregulate when subjected to heat stressful working environments. In Australia, it is common practice for workers to be flown to remote mine sites, often located in hot climates, where they spend a period of time, typically two to three weeks working 12-hour shifts every day. During this time, workers become acclimatised to the hot work environment. However, “fly-in-fly-out” (FIFO) workers usually spend their rostered time off in significantly cooler climates. These periods away from work “the off swing” could potentially impact on the levels of workers’ heat acclimatisation as their rostered time off is often spent in a cooler environment. Physiological parameters associated with heat acclimatisation were evaluated in a cohort of 5 FIFO workers for the full duration of their 12-hour work shift and across the entire 13-day period of their “on-swing”. Linear mixed models identified that participants’ heart rate decreased daily by an average of 0.8 beats per minute (p<0.001), indicating a decay in physiological heat adaptation during the off-swing. Regression analysis indicated a correlation between increasing temperature and heart rate (p<0.001). Further research is required to determine the ideal FIFO roster in terms of the retention of physiological adaptations of acclimatisation.