Even with rigorous health and safety procedures, the construction sector is notorious for health issues, serious injuries and perilous fatalities.
Physical health and safety are paramount in jobs sectors like construction and manual labour. Given the numbers of serious injuries (and deaths) that occur, occupational accidents increase without proper support and guidance.
The Chartered Institute of Building reported that 26% of construction workers had suicidal thoughts and 97% experienced work-related stress.
Without support, recognition, and even hope, employees still continue to battle with invisible disabilities, like mental health.
Discover how employers can support staff who are suffering from mental health in the workplace And see what steps and guidance is needed for dangerous job sectors like construction.
What is workplace mental health?
Physical injuries or serious accidents in the workplace always come with risk assessment and management strategies. ‘How to apply immediate care’ or ‘how to eliminate the root cause’– businesses will spend thousands on implementing these legal and moral obligations.
But when it comes to workplace mental health, less is done to identify issues (let alone handle them). Nearly 70 million workdays are lost every year because of mental health issues – costing the UK economy £2.4 billion annually – (according to Mentalhealth).
But we need to look beyond the numbers and focus more on individual cases – especially in the construction industry. Taking full care of your staff leads to a happier workplace, efficient production, legal compliance, and overall wellbeing security.
Employers’ duty for employee mental health
It’s normal for construction industries to prioritise ‘health and safety’. This job sector is regrettably notorious when it comes to work-related accidents and injuries.
But the biggest concerns that employers had, were ensuring injuries weren’t long-lasting or physically impairing.
But this is only half of an employer’s lawful obligation. Staff wellbeing is a legal duty of care, under the Health and Safety at Work, etc (1974).
The act places a duty on all employers to, ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work’ of all employees and non-workers found on their work premises.
In recent times, the conversation on mental health has become more public and inclusive. From athletes becoming ambassadors to creating conversations in our classrooms, mental health is no longer an invisible condition.
How to supportive mental health in the construction industry?
One of the most significant steps to take when supporting construction workers is concentrating on physical and mental health in the workplace.
Here are steps for building a supportive culture in a construction workplace:
Track mental health
From bullet journals to employee assistance programmes, ask your staff to track their mental health state. This can be done through five-minute app quizzes, or actively filling in mood trackers.
This data can be collated daily or once a week. But ultimately, all parties will recognise staff wellbeing and where further support might be needed.
Interactive training and services
Introduce training sessions, courses, and services where employees can gain information and support for mental health.
Through interactive methods, you can raise awareness and create safe spaces for conversations. And employees can share ways to control triggers and how to manage it through everyday living.
Train your management
Some of the most effective daily support comes from direct managers and supervisors. Walker Health and Safety Services can support you with your training needs.
Your management will likely have a better understanding and sense when their team-members are not feeling like themselves. Whether it’s a work issue or a personal problem, managers are sometimes the first to pick up on the atmosphere.
Utilise this by providing mental health training and coaching for your management. And teach them to discover the roots to problems; or manage it with the right tools. You could even train a qualified employee to stand as a mental health first aider.
Grow positive mental wellbeing
As an employer it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace environment. When it comes to mental health issues, look out for signs, educate your staff, and raise awareness.
You’ll likely still face mental health incidents, and some may go on undetected. But deal with them through your mental health policies and procedures as soon as you’re aware.
Mental health awareness is just an important obligation as legal compliance and hazard awareness. By caring for your staff on all levels, you’ll hold a secure workspace for your staff – and grow positive mental wellbeing.
Contact us for further information.
Guest Blog – David McDermott