It is no secret that construction is one of the most dangerous occupations. According to OSHA, one in ten construction workers is injured each year and the industry accounts for about 20 percent of all deaths in the private industry.
But what many do not realize is that construction workers are also at extremely high risk. for mental problems. In fact, it is called "the silent epidemic" in the construction industry.
The typical construction worker's job is full of stress that can lead to mental problems. The hours are long, the work is hard, overtime is common, the deadlines are short and millions of dollars are often at stake. The physically demanding work can lead to fatigue, burnout and / or injuries that lead to acute and chronic pain, which affects all aspects of life. Many work in workplaces away from home, friends and family for weeks or months in a row. And there are financial strains – work can be seasonal, cyclical and transient, often threatened by job closures or projects being halted. This can lead to illness, absenteeism, workers' compensation claims and negative behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco or drug abuse. It can also lead to presence, with workers physically there but distracted, and it is a risky combination in this business.
Unfortunately, the construction industry still has a long way to go to effectively address mental health issues.
The Strong, Silent Epidemic
There is no doubt that construction is a male-dominated industry, and men are usually more reluctant to talk about mental and emotional issues than women are. They are also less likely to seek support from professional services when they need help.
Tragically, one of the results of the silence is a high suicide rate. According to the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP), the suicide rate in the industry is 49.4 per 100,000. This is almost four times the national average and five times greater than all other deaths in construction.
These staggering numbers are solid evidence that more needs to be done to address the mental health of our construction workers.
Promoting Mental Health: What Can Employers Do?
Follow these seven tips to promote mental well-being in your construction industry:
- Create awareness of mental problems such as depression, loneliness and anxiety in the same way you do for slip-and-fall, electric shocks and crush injuries. Invite a mental health expert to your safety meetings to offer guidance.
- Incorporate mental health substance abuse, recovery and suicide prevention into your safety, health and health programs and staff benefits. Emphasize the need for constant communication . Be open to workers' concerns about stress levels or mental health issues and encourage them to talk to someone about it.
- Provide leadership training for senior executives to recognize when a worker is struggling.
- Encourage employee use. Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help workers with personal or work-related problems that may adversely affect their work performance and mental well-being.
- Offer Mental Education First Aid Education Just as you offer CPR or physical first aid training.
- Provide information on resources such as physicians, local guides, and other tools to connect workers to appropriate individuals and groups who can provide support.
Here are two resources for more information:
Ultimately, the company's culture of safety, health, and well-being must include mental well-being. By implementing these tips, you will go a long way to achieve that with your business.
Need more advice on managing construction risks? Contact the professionals at BNC Agency today.