Category Archives: Mental Health Advice

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Mental Health in the Construction Industry

Mental Health in the Construction Industry

Mental Health in the Construction Industry

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

Workplace Pranks – No Joke

No Horseplay at Work

No Horseplay at Work

Rough, boisterous play or pranks in the workplace can have serious consequences. We look at key cases involving practical jokes at work and offer tips on how to prevent horseplay.
What is horse play?

Playing around, racing, grabbing, thoughtless vehicle operation, social pressure, harassment, and unauthorised contests are activities often encouraged by ‘practical jokers’ who pressure other colleagues to get involved. Playing jokes and having fun with colleagues can break up the day, provide stress-relief and make work more interesting, however horseplay can take this too far and put workers at risk.

Is it a health and safety issue?

Cases involving horseplay are common in industrial workplaces such as construction sites, and often where forklift trucks are used. But other cases have included pharmacies, hospitals and offices where pranks such as pulling out a chair has resulted in injury. Regardless of the sector, it is management’s responsibility to ensure all employees have access to a safe, respectful and harassment-free place to work.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 does not specifically discuss horseplay but does make requirements for employees regarding health and safety.
Section 7 of the Act requires employees to ‘take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work’.
Section 8 requires that no person shall intentionally interfere or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety, and welfare. These duties extend to avoiding silly or reckless behaviour, and those who fail to comply with these duties may make themselves liable to be prosecuted.
However, acts that are not directly related to work, and are more of a personal nature will not be within scope, such as an employee assaulting a supervisor because he believed the supervisor had stolen his wallet.

It is most likely that employees will be prosecuted under section 7 where they have shown a reckless disregard for health and safety, and such disregard has resulted in serious risk.

Who is responsible?

It is a common misconception among employees that health and safety is the sole responsibility of the employer and if an accident or incident were to occur due to horseplay, that resulted in the injury of another person, it would be the employer that would have full responsibility. However, pranks at work that injure or threaten to injure another person may be the subject for individual prosecution against the person responsible. The law of vicarious liability has been steadily expanding, but there are areas where responsibility is still unlikely to arise on the part of the employer.

Last month IOSH magazine reported on Chell v Tarmac [2020] EWHC 2613, the latest decision to demonstrate that it will be difficult for an employee to succeed where they have been the victim of a practical joke played on them by a colleague.

Employers cannot rule out that horseplay at work can result in injury and there are cases where they can be held liable for the actions of their employees. To help prevent this, they need to have appropriate policies and procedures in place relating to horseplay that informs employees of the consequences of inappropriate behaviour at work and set out clearly what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Tips to prevent horse play.

Employees should:
• not engage or participate in any type of unsafe behaviour or horseplay, initiate it, or get pressured into participating in it.
• follow all regulations and work rules to ensure the safety of individuals or other employees.
• ensure protective equipment is used properly and operating machinery is in good repair and does not present a hazard.
• report those behaving in an unprofessional or unsafe way to a supervisor or manager.

Managers should:
• provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.
• take all precautions necessary to protect the safety and health of employees.
• outline policies against workplace horseplay in your employee manual
• educate and train employees on workplace safety.
• be an example of professionalism and not engage in any inappropriate behaviour or horseplay.

Contact us if you require further information.


Beating the winter blues – When workers are SAD

Beating the winter blues - When workers are SAD

Beating the winter blues – When workers are SAD

As staff enter the latest COVID-19 lockdown and this coincides with shorter, darker days, managers may find it useful to share information on how best to beat symptoms of the winter blues — or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — wherever employees are working.


According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

•a persistent low mood

•a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities


•feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness

•feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day

•sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning

•craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. Workers should consider seeing their GP if they are struggling to cope and the doctor will most likely assess their mental health, asking questions about their mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in their thoughts and behaviour.

It is thought that lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of melatonin and serotonin (the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep and mood) as well as the body’s internal body clock.


A range of treatments are available for SAD but the most common treatments include:

•lifestyle measures ― getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing stress levels

•light therapy, where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight

•talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling

•antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Eating well can help too: people should drink lots of water and eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and mackerel) and amino acids (such as eggs, nuts, fish, whole grains and spinach). These foods are readily converted into serotonin, which may help to boost mood.

Search out previous blogs for advice. How to help someone with SAD.

Contact us for further information. 


Published · Updated

How to improve the wellbeing of employees.

How to improve the wellbeing of employees

How to improve the wellbeing of employees

When managing health and safety at work, it’s easy to focus on just the physical hazards of the workplace. This is where most of the legislation lies, with the biggest penalties being dealt out for non-compliance.

However, employee wellbeing addresses both the physical and emotional health of employees. Aiming to prevent problems arising or, if they do, helping employees to cope with them. This allows the issues to have a minimal impact on their work.

Why improve wellbeing?

Research shows that having positive wellbeing in the workplace leads to an increase in motivation and productivity, whilst reducing absenteeism and staff turnover. Therefore, creating a workplace culture which supports employee wellbeing should be the goal of any business.

While the benefits are obvious, the negatives of not looking after employee wellbeing speak loudly. With the Centre for Mental Health suggesting that UK companies lose £34.9 billion in productivity because of mental health issues alone.

Don’t limit your business to just health and risk assessments, ensure you improve wellbeing for your employees outside of the legal requirements. Let’s look at some ways you can below.

Improve physical wellbeing

You can set aside funds to encourage the activeness of employees or improve workplace facilities. Whether that be through infrastructure or through education, there are a few key areas you can focus on.

Physical activities

This is the most simple way to improve physical wellbeing, make your employees more physically active. To improve physical wellbeing, an employee doesn’t need to spend hours in the gym but simply move around the office more.

This can be encouraged by implementing an initiative in the workplace where you educate employees on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and encourage them to stand up and move throughout the day.

Though it is important to note this “policy” idea is intended to provide permission to employees to get up and moving; it is not meant to be policed.

Funds can also be spent on equipment such as standing desks or a foot peddler to improve their health. Or for those employees who are interested in working out at a local gym, you could look for a group discount to provide them with.

• Educational workshops
• Policy/initiatives in the workplace with group walks
• Discounted/free gym memberships
• Weekly/monthly exercise classes at the workplace
• Equipment such as standing desks

Healthy eating

Diet is an important factor in an employee’s physical wellbeing. Over a long working day, it’s inevitable they’ll want a snack at some point. As an employer, you can encourage wellbeing with healthy and nutritional snacks around the workplace.

You can go a step further and ensure there are healthy options when holding workplace functions or events. Always opt for a healthier set of dishes for your employees.

Allowing for an adequate space where employees can store and prepare food also promotes healthy eating. Many convenient lunch meal deals from supermarkets or corner shops are either very calorific or offer little nutritional value. This allows employees to bring in healthier options.

• Healthy snacks at work
• Healthy food at work events
• Adequate food storage and preparation equipment at work


Sleep deprivation plays a big part in an employee’s wellbeing. If you lack sleep every night, there are some serious ramifications for your long-term health. Research shows that as a result of less sleep, individuals “move slower, have trouble concentrating, become forgetful, make bad decisions, are more irritable, and show visible signs of sleeplessness.”

How can you promote better sleep habits? Encourage employees to take regular breaks and ensure there are reasonable work schedules in place. Promote or provide tips for good sleep at home such as limiting screen time and avoiding stimulants like caffeine too close to bedtime.

• Education
• Reasonable work schedules

Improve mental wellbeing

Mental wellbeing in the workplace is something that is incredibly important towards a productive business but is often last on the list of priority.

As mental health is almost invisible compared to physical health, it can often go by the wayside even to those suffering. This leads to an inevitable crash at work if you do not encourage positive mental health wellbeing.

Here are some ways you can encourage mental wellbeing in your workforce.

  • Provide wellbeing support and perks
  • Offering employee benefits aiming at improving wellbeing is a great idea to keeping your employees’ mental health up. This can be achieved in a number of ways, which allow the employee to have a confidential support network.
  • One way of doing this is by investing in an employee assistance programme (EAP) to improve wellbeing. This provides employees with a wellness programme as well as access to counsellors to talk through workplace issues.
  • Providing resources and programmes can also be an invaluable way of supporting mental wellbeing. This allows employees to tackle these issues and at their own pace, sometimes it is difficult to talk to someone else so reading can be a good alternative.

• Invest in an EAP
• Provide mental health resources and programmes

Engage with employees

Providing employees with external support measures, such as EAPs, are a great option. However, if you engage with employees, this is a great way to encourage wellbeing alongside this.

If you show you care in the workplace, it can help foster positive wellbeing and bring a workforce closer together.

Whether that be through more one-on-one meetings and recognition, or with events paid for by the company. When talking to an employee, show you care about them as a person, ask about their life, talk about their career and goals rather than just job performance and just engage with them.

  • One on one time with employees
  • Asking about the employee’s life rather than work
  • Talk about their career and goals
  • Company events

We hope this has been useful. Remember to share this information with others in the company.

Contact us if you require further information.

Guest Blog with David Price from Health Assured Thank you!

Menopause at Work: Risk Assessments, Policies & Guidelines


Menopause at Work


Menopause occurs when a woman hasn’t menstruated in 12 consecutive months and can no longer become pregnant naturally. It usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55, but can develop before or after this age range.

Menopause can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes and weight gain. For most women, medical treatment isn’t needed for menopause.

Let’s start with why menopause is relevant in the workplace.

100% of women will go through menopause but that’s nothing new. What has changed is women’s role in the UK workforce.

Women currently comprise nearly half the UK workforce and the number of older UK women in employment has been rising for a number of years alongside the rising retirement age.

As a result of this more women are experiencing menopause whilst working. Moreover, growth in female leadership means the number of women in senior roles is rising and will continue to do so.

So, menopause is more relevant in the workplace today than it was even 20 years ago because women are working longer and they’re working in more senior positions too. The menopause symptoms women will experience can affect performance at work and impact relationships with managers, colleagues and clients.

Symptoms include poor memory and concentration resulting in an inability to recall facts, figures and names leading to a loss of confidence with colleagues and clients. Hot flushes aren’t just uncomfortable they’re embarrassing too. How would you feel about leading an internal meeting or pitching to clients when you’re at risk of visibly breaking into a sweat every 30 minutes?

The good news is with the right support and access to balanced expert information women can successfully learn to manage symptoms at work and at home too.

What can you do as an employer?

Start by reviewing the occupational health and wellbeing documentation you may have in place. If you require this documentation, please contact us.

  • Look at completing a risk assessment for the individual and consider the specific needs of menopausal women with regards to temperature, ventilation, toilet facilities and access to chilled drinking water when they’re in the office, travelling for business or working off site.
  • Consider the formal policies and guidelines you currently have in place with regards to topics like managing stress and mental health and how can they be adapted to incorporate the needs of your female employees experiencing menopause symptoms?
  • Or would it be more appropriate for your organisation to introduce a menopause policy and guidelines as part of your wider health and wellbeing agenda. It may be beneficial to produce separate guidance to meet the differing needs of staff and managers.

Updating your occupational health and wellbeing documentation is just one way your organisation can support female employees through menopause.

In the meantime, if you have any queries, please contact us.

Alternatively, contact to discuss the range of solutions available to your organisation to minimise the impact of menopause in the workplace.