Mine site etiquette - handy tips for newcomers

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Starting any new job takes you right back to the first day of school – you tend to feel a little lost, self-conscious and totally uncool. Never fear though, because if you’re about to start FIFO/DIDO, we’re here to help you hit the ground running.

Mine site etiquette differs slightly from site to site and you won’t be expected to know everything overnight. One rule that’s pretty universal relates to noise. Because two shifts generally run around the clock, half the workforce is always trying to get some sleep. As a result, you’ll be expected to keep noise to minimum in and around your donga after 9am (for night-shift workers) and 10pm (for day-shift workers). Remember, dongas have thin walls and you can hear your neighbour’s TV pretty easily. If you’re a light sleeper it’s worth investing in some decent earplugs, just in case your neighbour snores.

Doing your washing

In rare instances, like if you work in a lead mine, you’ll get your work gear laundered for you. But generally you’ll be required to do your own washing onsite. Remember:

  • Bring your own washing powder and do not use anyone else’s without permission.
  • If someone else’s washing is sitting finished in the machine, it’s OK to put it in an available dryer (start the dryer too) in order to free up the washer for your own use.
  • If you need to use a dryer and it’s full of someone else’s washing, it’s also OK to take it out and put it on an available, clean space (laundry basket, shelf or on top of the dryer). But be courteous, people! Don’t take washing out of the dryer unless it’s dry. If it’s still wet, restart the dryer and wait your turn.

When you’re eating in the communal mess: 

  • Get yourself clean and tidy before breakfast and dinner. No-one wants to sit beside someone with half the day’s work still on their overalls. 
  • Always finish by cleaning up your table and taking your dirty dishes to the wash-up area. There’s a container for dirty cutlery and dishes should be stacked. 

More often than not, you’ll receive a new starter’s pack outlining general camp rules. Most other issues will be covered at induction. If in doubt, ask.

This article is from our new book Mining Families Rock, which contains a stack of advice for workers just starting out in the industry, as well as great strategies for keeping relationships strong and families happy. Check it out here.

And finally, got any additional tips on mine site etiquette? We'd love to hear them...