Safety Signs to Look for to Prevent Suicide in Construction Industry
The construction industry is a very physically demanding work environment that often has stoic employees suffering in silence.
Many times, they turn to drugs, alcohol or other forms of comfort to stave off the mental and physical fatigue they often experience.
Layoffs, a constant shuffling at work, deadline stress and yes, a global pandemic, can lead to mental health issues, which increases the likelihood of suicide.
Mental health can go off the rails due to personal or financial loss, a lack of ability to concentrate or from the constant strain of operating dangerous and heavy equipment.
Sometimes, simply talking about the issues can be enough to bring comfort. That discussion is about creating systems where honest conversation about a person’s mental state can lead to healing. Open communication can empower a coworker to ask, “are you okay?”
Coworkers can keep an eye on one another for their own safety and the safety of others. A program called the STAND Up Initiative provides training to identify risk and raise awareness about the suicide crisis in the construction industry. It works to normalize conversations
about mental health and suicide and to decrease the risks associated with suicide in the industry.
Signs to Watch For
There are a number of signs coworkers can watch for in relation to suicide:
· Are they talking about suicide?
· What are they saying?
· Are they talking about being anxious or depressed?
· Are they concerned they are a burden to others?
· Are they increasingly absent from work?
· Have they become unproductive or are they performing poorly?
· Is a coworker acting recklessly and ignoring safety protocols?
· Do they talk about stressors in their lives?
· Were they recently laid off?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, found that male construction workers have one of the highest suicide rates compared to other industries. The rate is four times that of the general population.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formed a task force made up of unions, industry partners and educators to raise awareness about the stresses that can push people into depression and considering suicide.
The task force calls on the industry to encourage employers to share available resources with their workers.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, so the discussion is at the forefront right now. And OSHA is encouraging others to join in the effort to recognize and shed light on the issue of suicide in the industry. OSHA has developed a suicide prevention page that includes links to resources and information for giving toolbox talks to employees. The Construction Industry Alliance has a page on suicide prevention, as does The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s National Construction Center.
Find resources that you can use to help your employees cope with mental health issues or addictions that may be causing them to have thoughts of suicide.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.