Twenty-six FIFO workers have come down with a bout of gastro at a Western Australian mining camp over the last few days sparking fears of poor camp food hygiene, raw sewerage in drains and improper cleaning practices.
Complaints have also been lodged by FIFO workers regarding excrement from feral cats at the entrances to buildings, food handling processes and overflowing bins.
One FIFO worker told AMSJ that hygiene related conditions at the camp had been concerning for some time but “it is what it is.”
Searipple Village Workers’ Camp at Karratha has confirmed that 26 people have been affected in the recent outbreak. The West Australian Country Health Service has also confirmed 20 people have gone to the Karratha Health Campus with gastroenteritis symptoms over the past two days.
A worker at the camp also told ABC News that “raw sewage overflows reported to Searipple management almost monthly over the past year, but it is believed state and local government authorities only became aware of the recent raw sewage flow 10 days ago.”
Searipple Village has said that a drain had recently been blocked, causing sewage issues, and had since been cleared.
In a statement, Searipple confirmed that “The staff and management of Searipple wish these guests a speedy recovery from their illness and apologise for the discomfort and inconvenience experienced”
Searipple also confirmed that “extra cleaning of common surfaces” had started and antibacterial gel and spray had been provided in the village.
Searipple said it was fully cooperating with a review by the Department of Health and City of Karratha to determine the source of the outbreak, and would also review its food preparation and handling standards.
“The village has been in operation for 10 years, and has not experienced a large outbreak of gastrointestinal symptoms prior to this week.”
Worker Shaun Webster was discharged from hospital after three days but told ABC News that he did not want to return to the camp.
“I don’t know if anything’s been done to inspect, or if it’s good to go back,” he said.
“They want to discharge me today but I’m concerned for my health again going back there.
He believed he became ill after eating food that workers have been fed at the facility.
“When I was first admitted in the emergency ward, I could hear the nurse interviewing the first lot of people [from the camp]. A lot of people said it was poultry-related; pies and eggs came up a fair bit.”
ISS Facility Services Australia, which provides hospitality services to Searipple Village, said it had very strict food production controls in place.
In a statement, it said it was aware that approximately 20 out of 820 customers at the village were ill and was taking these reports seriously.
ASX listed Fleetwood Corporation Limited (ASX:FWD) owns the Searipple Village.
Read more Mining Safety News