Tuesday, June 2, 2020

COVID and mobile work

A few years ago, I was a bit player in a pan-Canadian study of mobile work. One of the researchers in the study was Sara Dorow (University of Alberta). Dorow’s research included looking at the experiences of camp workers, including fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in Fort McMurray.

Dorow has revisited some that work in light of COVID-19 and the outbreak that started at the Kearl Lake worker camp. More than 100 cases have been traced back to this camp. About a quarter of the cases are in other provinces.

Her recent blog post makes a number of interesting points, including:
  • COVID is just one of the hazards associated with FIFO work.
  • The structure of camp life plays a significant role in how serious these hazards are.
  • The close contact of camp life is a factor in outbreaks in others industries, such as meat packing and long-term care.
More broadly, Dorow notes that some workers' mobility results in immobility for other workers, These include those who must remain at home to manage in the mobile workers’ absences and the camp staff, who are often temporary foreign workers.

-- Bob Barnetson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was working the flights into and out of the camps. The planes were packed with workers, sometimes 136 people on a (full) flight. It took a couple of months (late April-May) for the planes to be re-configured in order to accommodate some type of social distancing. Flight attendants on these flights would be given 3 masks each for the day (6-14 hours). When the Kearl outbreak occurred it took WEEKS for many of us to find out on what flights the ill passengers were on. FIFO charters, while a large part of the job, pose a huge risk for all of us who work them. Thank you for sharing this information.