Mental Health in the Construction Industry
27 September 2018
Male site workers in construction are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male. This shocking mental health statistic is a vivid reminder of the difficulties faced by many working in the construction industry every day.
More than 1,400 construction workers took their own lives between 2011 and 2015.
Troubling data from the Office of National Statistics found that between 2011 and 2015, of the 13,232 in-work suicides recorded, those within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2% – despite construction accounting for little over 7% of the UK workforce. This fact revealed that the number of suicides among those working in construction trades was the highest of any profession over that period.
Managing the health risks in a high-risk industry
The “macho culture” of the industry, means workers feel unwilling or too uncomfortable to share their concerns in the work place. Yet the circular nature of work, the deadline pressures to get work completed and the source of the next pay cheque isn’t always clear. Where a macho culture dominates, this problem is even more obvious because “Blokes don’t talk.”
The statistics suggest those aged 40 and above are the most vulnerable.
Two-thirds of all suicides by those working in construction trades were by those aged 40 and above, with those aged between 40 and 49 the most at risk. Within this age bracket there were 503 suicides – or 35.7 % of the 1,419 total – between 2011 and 2015. There were also 334 suicides by those aged between 50 and 59 – 23.5% of the total.
Managing health and safety on a construction site is complex and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Both poor mental health and mental health disorders are caused by a variety of factors, including individual attributes as well as social, cultural and political drivers, with the strength of each factor being different in each case. According to the National Building Specification, mental health issues account for people taking almost 70 million days off sick per year – the most of any health condition – costing the UK economy between £70bn and £100bn a year.
What can be done?
A vital part of mental health is an enriching and supportive work environment, where people feel able to talk honestly about their concerns and can access support when needed. To show commitment, all reasonably sized companies should adopt a mental health policy. This should set out aims, roles and responsibilities and provisions aimed at preventing and addressing mental health among employees.
Train your people to the highest levels
The CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme informs managers and supervisors of their responsibility and accountability for health and safety, their legal duties towards those either directly or indirectly under their charge, and towards those who may be affected by their acts or omissions. It also sets out the good principles of relevant legislation, and provides information on where more specific guidance can be found.
NEBOSH Construction Certificate
To enable management of building and construction site health and safety risks effectively. NEBOSH Construction Certificate is the ideal foundation training for individuals looking to develop a broad understanding of the management of health and safety risks, within construction.
IOSH Managing Safely in Construction
Provides construction managers and supervisors with a practical health and safety knowledge. IOSH Managing Safely in Construction enables them to handle actions they need to take in relation to employees and contractors in a construction environment.