Mental health in the construction industry isn’t a topic that gets much airtime. It should. “Research shows that 60% to 70% of all safety “incidents” have some type of health or wellness issue as an underlying factor,” says Cindy DePrater. Focusing on mental health can help create a healthier, safer work environment.
While there is greater awareness of mental health issues in the construction industry today, suicide rates are still 3X higher in the US construction industry than the national average. There are a number of factors that contribute to this:
- Increasingly volatile weather conditions create more days onsite the are extremely hot or cold or dangerous when high winds, flooding and fire add to risk.
- A labor shortage in the industry puts more pressure on workers to work for longer hours to get jobs done.
- Remote jobsites have workers traveling long distances or being away from families for weeks or months.
- Noise and air pollution, dangerous jobsites, worksite injuries or working at heights can contribute to stress.
You can support your worker’s mental health in a number of ways.
Make mental health part of your safety talks. Regular safety talks help remind workers of safe practices and procedures. Bringing awareness to mental health issues and creating a culture of support can help workers to identify issues early so they can get help.
Create a flexible work schedule that allows workers to spend time with family and friends and take enough down time to get the rest they need.
Account for weather and delays and delays that may be caused by labor shortage in your estimates. This will alleviate the pressure to meet deadlines and will make for very happy clients when you complete projects early.
Ensure your team managers are trained to recognize mental health issues and provide access to help for those who need it.
Destigmatizing and normalizing mental health in your company, training your managers to identify workers who need help and providing a clear path to getting help will create a culture of support that will ensure a happier, healthier workforce.