Job hours take toll on workers
GLADSTONE'S major projects are paying big dollars to their workers, but for some individuals, the long working days are taking their toll.
The Observer spoke to one former Bechtel employee, Thalia Creighton, who said that while she found the company to be an excellent employer and conscious of its workers needs, she had overestimated her own ability to cope with the long hours.
Gladstone-based Relationships Australia counsellor Denise Reichenbach said the intensity of life on Gladstone's major projects was taking its toll on some workers.
She emphasised many people coped well with that lifestyle, while others struggled. It all comes down to the individual.
"It really depends on your attitude and also your expectations," she said.
She finds couples without children often cope more easily with those pressures.
She also said lack of sleep had become a big problem for many workers in Gladstone, which in turn impacted their relationships with family.
One of Ms most interesting observations, is that many of her clients came in with separate problems, but through the conversation it became apparent that long hours or shift work were a major factor.
"Usually, (the long working hours) are not the primary problem, but they are the secondary problem," she said.
Bechtel Gladstone manager Kevin Berg said while the big money was what attracted some people to work on major projects, the company made potential employees aware of the responsibilities that came with the role they were considering. He also said managing worker fatigue was a big priority.
"There's no doubt that the money is what attracts some people to the construction industry initially," he said. "Knowing that, we make sure everyone that joins our projects is aware of the full spectrum of responsibilities that come with the role they are considering. They must come into it with a full understanding of what the job is, and then the individual is equipped to make an informed decision about whether the job will match their work life balance expectations and needs."
"For us it's about getting the right balance between operational efficiency for our clients and employee satisfaction. On every site in countries around the world where Bechtel works, there are stringent fatigue management procedures in place and Bechtel has an unwavering goal to zero accidents."
"We only take on work we are confident we can complete safely, on time and on budget. Our people are our only asset and we value that. We make it a priority to look after them well and be as flexible as possible."
Mr Berg said that, like any job, construction roles simply aren't suited to everyone, while "Some people thrive on the challenges construction can provide and they love and have made a career out of construction."
Regarding the ferry rides Bechtel's workers take to and from Curtis Island every day, Mr Berg said the company endeavours to make the journey to and from the island as efficient as possible without compromising safety or the environment.
"Some people have told us they really enjoy catching the ferry as it gives them time to plan out the day ahead without the stress of driving through traffic," he said. "We simply can't put our people at risk on our worksites. And like any company, if an employee needs time off, they put in request for leave."
"For us it's about getting the right balance between operational efficiency for our clients and employee satisfaction," he said.
• Denise Reichenbach said Relationships Australia provides counselling for families, couples and children
• 277 364 For more information, call Relationships Australia on 1300