How wearing a hard-hat can threaten wildlife…

This article by Terry Reis on ABC Environment hits the nail on the head. While safety is important, blanket safety requirements often inhibit us doing our jobs well. Companies update their systems and procedures as a result of incident investigations, adding more job steps to protect us. These can be easy like wearing gloves but more often they are administrative controls that take time or convoluted processes that very quickly forgotten or ignored as they aren’t practical.

We joke that we should remove safety procedures and equipment and let the Darwinian theory of Survival of the Fittest take over. This would quickly weed out crew members who can’t, but more often won’t, use common sense when completing simple tasks. There is always room to train new crew and build up the overall experience levels in the field but some crew members are simply taking the piss and doing dumb shit constantly.

A company focused on hiring competent and experienced staff would significantly reduce their need for costly, time-consuming safety processes and I’m suspecting that staff retention would remain high and incident rates would be low. Those in the mining industry know how important a total recordable injury frequency is when tendering for new projects…

x S

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March 19, 2014 · 3:14 am

Just stopping for a cold one…

Just stopping for a cold one...

This is one of the interesting pieces of history on site. It’s just a rusting fridge with an oil can and some cattle bones on top. It’s right next to an access track and a cattle yard so people drive past every day. It’s a good meeting place as everyone knows where you are talking about.

x S

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March 15, 2014 · 3:16 am

Wildlife Wednesday: Australian Jewel Spider

Jewel Spider

Jewel Spider


Austracantha minax is also known as the Australian Jewel Spider. It is an orb-weaving spider, creating wheel-shaped webs. They are common here especially in summer, most often found in dense undergrowth, creating a dense net over some bushes. They are small, 1-2cm, so it’s not uncommon to wander right past them and get them on your trousers. They aren’t poisonous but they are very pretty and the colour markings and spines vary significantly.

x S

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Filed under Environment, Wildlife Wednesday

Money Matters


Image ReturnofKings

When I started working a FIFO roster, plenty of people had concerns about how this job would impact my life – specifically my relationship with my husband, family and friends, my health and my bank balance.

My bank balance has benefited significantly. N and I have paid off a significant potion of our mortgage and enjoyed two fabulous holidays, Antarctica and New York. I don’t buy scratchy toilet paper and I have my hair cut at a nice salon. Some weeks it already feels like I’m missing out so when I’m home, I buy the good stuff. It makes me appreciate the job that I have.

There is a part of me that refuses to cook boring home cooked meals when I am home as I’m only home for 9 out of 28 sleeps. I’d rather cook something completely different from the food served at work or eat at a restaurant. For a while, N got home delivered meals but now he prefers if I can cook up a few meals and place them in the freezer. I don’t mind this either – it’s thrifty and I can have some assurance that he is eating his vegetables. The man can not exist on baked beans and scrambled eggs alone.

There are a few things you should also keep in mind…

  • N and I save money because while I am at work I am not shopping, socializing or using household utilities.
  • I’m working 50% more hours than your traditional 9am-5pm worker so it makes sense that I should earn more.
  • I’m not spending two hours commuting to and from work each day or spending money on an office appropriate wardrobe.
  • I love shopping at thrift stores. I don’t have expensive clothing tastes or a need to drive a fuel-guzzling status car (especially when I am home so little)
  • My roster has limited flexibility so if your wedding / birthday or other event falls on a date when I’m at work, N will be attending the event solo.
  • Paying bills is fairly easy with online bill and banking with programmed or auto payments
  • Christmas and birthday present shopping is a huge, monumental pain-in-the-arse. I have to spend precious time at home trying to find the perfect gift when I could be hanging with you having coffee or I have to find the perfect gift online and pay for shipping. This year, I went online shopping and half my gifts didn’t arrive in time. Boo!
  • My contract doesn’t include maternity leave and I don’t get paid extra for working public holidays. If I’m sick, I don’t get to go home nor does anyone bring my tea and toast in bed but we do have a generous family leave policy (see my post from when my Gran died)

There are blokes at work who can’t afford to get a job in the city because their mortgages depend on the FIFO wage to make the monthly payments. Some blokes work FIFO to allow their wives to be stay-at-home mums but that has its own set of challenges for their relationships and health. FIFO jobs are a great way to get ahead financially provided you live within your means.

If you’ve got any other questions about the FIFO financial pros and cons, let me know.

x S

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Filed under Conflicts, Relationships

Night Life


View from my bathroom window…

We work 6am to 6pm which leaves a couple of hours in the evening to fill. The project is located 90mins from the nearest town so heading in for a few drinks or a movie isn’t an option.

We have a couple of options. Last year, my preferred option was do my laundry, watch TV in my room and eat chocolate. This lead to a shortage of chocolate mid-rotation and a mild feeling of guilt. To combat this increase in chocolate consumption, I would head down to the basketball or tennis courts or cricket nets for a run around or a group work out. We played a few rounds of no-rules tennis which was fun. We also did some excellent circuit style work outs and sprint sessions. There is a regular group but their workouts were super intense so a group of girls met on an alternate night for a slightly easier version. We don’t have access to a large grassed area but if we can negotiate with another camp nearby, it would be great to play some Ultimate or football.

We also have the wet mess. There is a variety of light beer and low alcohol wine as well as chocolate, chips, cookies, coffee milk and sundry items like toothpaste and tampons. The wet mess also has a media room with big, comfy armchairs, a pool table, darts and ping pong. There is a book swap but I’ll confess, despite being a big reader, I’ve never even looked at it. The wet mess also has a projector screen and sound system that plays everything from State of Origin to one of the various music channels.

I spent a couple of nights at the wet mess this rotation. It’s nice to talk to people that you don’t work with on a daily basis. We had a few beers on Australia Day and a few beers on my last night. There is also a BBQ that you can pre-order for lunch or dinner. They’ve been a popular summer change to eating the usual buffet dinner. There aren’t many organised activities at the wet mess – movies, trivia or other. I’ve been asked to join a committee looking to improve the standard of living at camp with a focus on food, facilities and social activities. Any suggestions on evening activities would be greatly appreciated…

The last rotation, I spent most nights at the gym. I’ve been working out twice a day because I’ve been bored. I’m too tired to do any thing that requires thinking or fine motor skills like reading, sewing or drawing. I’ve been hitting the treadmill and watching my iPad or listening to music. I worked out with a friend from my previous project which was good opportunity to catch up. I’m hoping we can make it a regular thing with a few of us going together. Last week, I clocked up 60kms of combined cycling and running which felt awesome. I thought I’d be exhausted but it’s been incredibly energising.

That’s all the after work activities we’ve got at camp. Nothing incredible to write home about but just enough to keep you from going insane. Let me know if you have any after work ideas to mix it up…

x S


Filed under Day-to-Day

Office Kitchen Ettiquette


Image from LeisterGame

Do you share an office kitchen? We have a large kitchen with two dishwashers between 80 staff. It is funny to watch how people interact with the dirty dishes. I’m not happy about having to stack or empty the dishwasher but it annoys me when people consistently place dirty mugs in a machine that is full of clean dishes that haven’t been put away or when I can’t find a clean fork for my lunch. This happens at least once every two days. I figure some items are washed several times before someone puts them away. I’m also amazed at how inefficiently people stack a dishwasher. There is definitely an optimum stacking design but it seems that the easiest to option is to opens the door and place your item in the closest available spot rather than filling from the back or with other like items. We have signage on the dishwashers to let people know which machine is full of dirty or clean dishes and which machine is running. The single most effective tool that we used was duct tape. We taped the machine closed so that items could not be retrieved mid-cycle and once clean, it would be a clear indicator to empty the machine. Turns out the guerrilla duct tape tactics, while effective, were considered unfriendly….


Image from MyDoorSign

We also have disposable mugs next to the ceramic mugs. There are people who despite working in the office consistently use disposable cups. I often ask people if they’d really like a disposable cup or if they could use a ceramic mug. We can’t take the disposable mugs away as the crew often come in to make a a cup of coffee too. I’d like to move the disposable mugs to the same cupboard as the ceramic mugs instead of being on the bench. I would hope that people would then make a conscious choice as opposed to just grabbing the closest mug.


Image from Wanelo

I’ve also noticed a distinct difference between the attitudes towards kitchen cleaning between our company and our client who we share the fifties with and also between the sexes. Our clients staff are less likely to stack or empty the dishwasher. They have a staffing level approximately one third of ours so it makes sense that I notice them cleaning the kitchen less. In terms of gender, there are almost ten times as many men as women but women tend to be the ones that clean the kitchen. I’m not sure if it is due to traditional gender roles being played out in a non-gender traditional environment or the inbuilt genetic disposition of women to notice and address mess. I’m not one to sit on the sidelines so if I notice someone leaving an empty cup, I’ll mention it. I’ll also ask someone to put the dishwasher on when they’ve finished with their plates.

Do you share an office kitchen? Do you have any hints or tips for keeping it clean? Do rosters actually work?

x S

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Filed under Day-to-Day, Domestic Goddess, Relationships

Physical contact

Working away from home has challenges and one of the hardest for me has been the lack of physical contact. I’m not talking just about sex but hugs, holding hands, snuggling on the sofa and goodbye kisses. Over the last twelve weeks, I’ve noticed this change in physical contact around the office.

My grandmother passed away just a few days after I had returned to work in November. It was very sudden and I was extremely upset. My colleagues saw my distress and coordinated our admin staff to send me to Melbourne to be with my family. My company got me on a plane to Melbourne so quickly I didn’t have time to pack a sweater. My boss, who wasn’t on site when I left, rather than call me, sent me a text after three days just to see how I was so I could respond in my own time. My team sent me ‘thinking of you’ texts and did not call or text me about anything work-related.

I was able to take two weeks off. I returned to work for four nights and it was tough. My team were respectful and caring, ensuring I had whatever I needed. Twelve weeks later things still aren’t the same. I ache for the person who was such a pivotal part of my life. I’ve noticed that by being so vulnerable, my colleagues shared more of their lives with me and hugging is more common amongst us. Not just hugging when we are sad or angry but hugging to say ‘Thank you’, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Are you ok?’. The latter is a killer but I’ve been so lucky to have huggers who don’t let go until I do, respected waiting until I’ve sorted my shit out. I’m so grateful for them…

The physical contact doesn’t even come close to the level of contact I’m used to at home with N but it has allowed me to be more human and strengthen the bond within the team. They are top kids and I’m really thankful they were there when I needed them…

x S

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